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Pavel Datsyuk Burning up the KHL plus 2020 NHL Draft Update

Even at the age of 42, Pavel Datsyuk is still sprinkling stardust over the league. Avtomobilist’s captain potted two goals and an assist in Sunday’s 3-1 victory over Traktor, placing him second on

KHL’s scoreboard with 18 (5+13) points in 15 games this season. The only man ahead of him is also one of the main beneficiaries of those 13 helpers – Datsyuk’s line-mate Alexei Makeyev is out in front with 19 (10+9), and second only to Dmitrij Jaskin for goals scored this season. Datsyuk’s combination is helping the Motormen to pole position in the Eastern Conference: as of Sunday evening, the Yekaterinburg team is top of the pack on goal difference from Avangard.

Four KHLers in the first round

Ahead of the 2020/21 season, we saw a significant number of NHL players move across to KHL, and last week the NHL took an interest in the latest crop of KHL’s new talent. Last week’s NHL draft underlined the quality of player development in KHL. No fewer than four players currently active in the league got the call – highlighting the strength of our Junior Hockey League as a development process and KHL as a league full of talent.  

Goalie Yaroslav Askarov was the first to be chosen, selected at #11 by Nashville. The 18-year-old SKA prospect has won two of his three appearances this season, topping a mighty 97.4% of shots faced for a GAA of 0.74. The Maple Leafs took Ufa’s Rodion Amirov at #15. The 19-year-old forward potted his first goals in KHL this season and has stepped up to play on the first line in recent games while the likes of Teemu Hartikainen and Markus Granlund recover from illness. Another Salavat Yulaev youngster, defenseman Shakir Mukhamadullin went at #20 – a slightly surprising choice for the Devils. Ranked #17 among European skaters based on his stats with Tolpar in the JHL, Shakir has taken a big step forward this season. He’s a regular in Tomi Lamsa’s team and leads the scoring from the blue line. Finally, Yegor Chinakhov was taken at #21 by the Blue Jackets. The Omsk forward made his KHL debut for Bob Hartley’s team this season and has settled in well. How well? Five goals in 12 games, and more than 21 minutes on the ice against CSKA recently. Not bad for a kid who had many trans-Atlantic observers scratching their heads when his name was called in the first round.

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