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10 Former New York Rangers Playing in the KHL in 2013-14

Jameson SempeyCorrespondent IIIJanuary 15, 2017

10 Former New York Rangers Playing in the KHL in 2013-14

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    It's been two weeks since Ilya Kovalchuk retired from the NHL and signed in the Kontinental Hockey League a few days later, but the ramifications may last for many offseasons to come.

    He's the most high-profile player to make the transfer since the Russian league formed in 2008, but he'll be joining a lengthy list of players that have made the same career choice.

    There are plenty of players I'm sure were long forgotten who are still alive and kicking in Russia. Remember Oleg Tverdovsky? What about Randy Robitaille or Chris Simon?

    The New York Rangers have a decent representation of former players in the KHL. Here, we'll take a look at the 10 most notable and give you a rundown of the rest.


    All statistics are provided by unless otherwise noted.

Jarkko Immonen (2005-2007)

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    Jarkko Immonen's career is a puzzle that may never be solved.

    His career started in his home country, Finland. He played four seasons in the SM-Liiga, averaging nearly a point per game in his final two seasons.

    After he was acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs in the infamous Brian Leetch trade, he came to North America and continued his strong play in the American Hockey League, scoring 50 goals and 66 assists in 128 games.

    As with most NHLers that bolt for the KHL, potential was never the problem. He simply never materialized with the Rangers, and he never saw another opportunity come his way. 

    In 20 career games with the Rangers, he scored three goals and five assists. Not terrible numbers, but just not enough to establish himself.

    He returned to the SM-Liiga in 2007, and in his second season back, he lead JyP to a championship. Following that year, he'd head to the KHL. He's scored between 26 and 38 points each season in Russia, appearing in at least 50 games each year.

    There were rumors of a return to the Blueshirts in 2011. It's kind of bizarre to think about now that in John Tortorella's system, it's possible the Rangers were entertaining Immonen as an alternative to Brad Richards who, buyout talk or not, was a pivotal part of the 2011-12 team. 

    Immonen will return to Ak Bars Kazan next season, following a trip to the Eastern Conference finals last year. He'll also compete for a spot on Finland's roster in the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Nigel Dawes (2006-2009)

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    When Nigel Dawes came up through the Rangers system, I really doubt anyone thought he'd end up in the KHL.

    Was he considered a fringe NHLer? Sure. He's a small player at 5'9", 200 pounds. In 121 regular season games with New York, Dawes scored 25 goals and 24 assists over the course of three seasons.

    After being traded to the Coyotes with Dmitri Kalinin and Petr Prucha for Derek Morris, he'd give the NHL a try for two more seasons before washing out to the KHL.

    Barys Astana will have Dawes for a third consecutive season in 2013-14. He's joined by fellow Canadians Dustin Boyd and Josh Gratton. Gratton was a teammate of Dawes in 2007-08 on the Hartford Wolf Pack.

    Last season, Dawes scored 20 goals and 14 assists in 51 regular season games. But most impressively, he scored seven goals and two assists in seven games, losing against Traktor Chelyabinsk in the opening round of the playoffs.

Erik Christensen (2009-2012)

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    Erik Christensen's demeanor is that of Eeyore. The difference is, you'd never see Eeyore snipe top shelf short side in the NHL playoffs or undress the New Jersey Devils' top pairing and make future Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur look like an amateur.

    Christensen's highlight-reel plays were always something to see; however, he was far too inconsistent to maintain an NHL career. 

    In his KHL debut last season, he scored 11 goals and 10 assists in 41 games for HC Lev Praha. What's unfortunate is, similar to the way things went in the NHL, his scoring came in bursts. Seven of those 11 goals came in his first 12 games.

    Playing with star-talent always brought the best out in Christensen, and it's truly disappointing to watch a player with his skill set never develop into a steady NHLer. 

    He'll enter his second season with HC Lev Prague. He'll be in the company of another former Ranger, Nikolai Zherdev, next season.

Nikolai Zherdev (2008-2009)

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    There's never been a player in New York Rangers history that looked as annoyed to be playing NHL hockey as Nikolai Zherdev did.

    When the Rangers acquired Zherdev from the Columbus Blue Jackets, they gave up fellow-Russian Fedor Tyutin, who's still with the team today.

    At the time, it seemed like a perfect swap. The Rangers had an abundance of young defensemen with Tyutin being the odd man out. Zherdev was a classic candidate for a change of scenery to wake him up.

    The numbers were right, but the way he carried himself spelled the end for him.

    Zherdev is as creative as anyone with the puck, and he often makes the game look easy. Players like Z were exactly who the NHL had in mind when they put the shootout in place. 

    The biggest scoring piece to the Playstation line, Zherdev made plenty of jaws drop in his time in New York, but unfortunately fans were left scratching their heads just as often.

    He scored 23 goals and 35 assists in his one-year stint with the Rangers, appearing in all 82 regular season games. What may have sealed his fate in New York was how invisible he was in the playoffs against the Washington Capitals, registering no points as the Rangers fell in seven games.

    After a year in the KHL, he gave North America one more shot with Philadelphia. It went arguably worse than his stint with the Rangers, and he's been in Russia since.

    He's played the last two seasons with former-Ranger Immonen, but signed with HC Lev Prague this offseason, where he'll be teammates with Christensen.

Marcel Hossa (2005-2008)

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    Marcel Hossa, much like Nikolai Zherdev, has tons of talent that just never translated in the NHL. 

    For Hossa, however, attitude and approach never seemed to be the issue. His skill set just never translated into results.

    Scoring depth was something Hossa gave the Rangers. He scored 10 goals in 64 games in both 2005-06 and 2006-07. Unfortunately for Hossa, his numbers were never that of a top-six forward and his style of play was never that of a bottom-six forward.

    In 2009, Hossa was dealt to the Phoenix Coyotes with Al Montoya in exchange for Josh Gratton, Fredrik Sjostrom and David LeNeveu.

    He'd play in 14 scoreless games with the Coyotes, spelling the end of his NHL career.

    The KHL was taken by storm for two years, but Hossa seemed to come back to Earth after he left Dinamo Riga for Ak Bars Kazan. His point total dropped by 23 points, despite playing in a similar number of games.

    Hossa will attempt to recapture the magic he first found in the KHL next season, returning to Dinamo Riga for a second stint. He only scored eight goals and 11 assists in 50 games for Prague Lev in 2012-13.

Alexander Frolov (2010-11)

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    Most Ranger fans would like to forget about Alexander Frolov and the season he signed on with the Rangers. 

    The aging veteran signed a one-year deal with the Blueshirts in 2010, hoping he could recapture the success he had previously had, scoring 30-plus goals in a season twice for the Kings. Twenty-eight at the time, he'd then look to cash in on a bigger, longer contract.

    It didn't quite go as planned for Frolov. In 43 games, he scored seven goals and nine assists, often going long periods of time with no points. He tore his ACL around the midway point of the 2010-11 season.

    That'd be the last we'd hear from Frolov in the NHL.

    Now playing for Avangard Omsk, he has 25 goals and 40 assists in 101 games the past two seasons.


Enver Lisin (2009-2010)

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    Enver Lisin once fell so far out of favor with then-head coach John Tortorella, that he dressed for a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins but failed to see the ice for so much as one second.

    Perhaps he fell victim to poor timing. The Rangers brought Lisin in during Tortorella's first offseason with the team. Square peg, meet round hole.

    Lisin never had amazing numbers at any level, but his large frame at 6'2", his speed and his highlight-reel ability had teams hoping for the best.

    Acquired from the Coyotes for a player that actually was a "Torts guy" in Lauri Korpikoski, Lisin had six goals and eight assists in 57 games for the Rangers in 2009-10.

    He's been a member of Metallurg Magnitogorsk since. Last season, he scored 11 goals and seven assists in 47 games. 

Wojtek Wolski (2010-2012)

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    Talented yet mostly unsuccessful players like Wolski don't usually shock the masses when they decide to go overseas.

    What's unique about Wolski though, is that unlike most guys that defect to Russia from the NHL, he's had chance after chance after chance after chance to establish himself. He's been a member of four NHL teams since 2010. 

    Once a 20-goal scorer, Wolski managed six goals and 16 assists in 46 games with the Rangers before being dealt to the Florida Panthers. He was another poor fit to Tortorella's system.

    Wolski has never played in the KHL in his career, and he'll make his debut next season with Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod.

Ruslan Fedotenko (2010-2012)

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    Ruslan Fedotenko is in a different class of transfers than the rest in this slide. 

    Born in the Ukraine, Fedotenko is nearing the end of a subtle but fulfilling hockey career.

    In fact, the only time he had to fight to continue his NHL career, the Rangers came calling. Unlike the Lisin and Wolski acquisitions, Fedotenko was exactly the kind of player Tortorella could work with.

    He earned a spot on the Rangers roster after a training-camp tryout, and would re-sign the following year.

    The scoring depth Fedotenko provided for two seasons was sorely missed this year, as the Rangers struggled to find a bottom-six lineup that would compliment a star-studded top two lines.

    Moving from the NHL to the KHL is more about continuing to play the sport and finding a place he likes to do so. 

    After a shortened season with the Philadelphia Flyers, he'll join HC Donbass on a 3 year, $9 million deal.


Petr Prucha (2005-2009)

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    Everyone loves an underdog, especially one with guts.

    Enter Petr Prucha.

    At 6'0", 175 pounds, Prucha burst onto the scene as a rookie for the Rangers. He scored 30 goals and 17 assists in 68 games for the Rangers in 2005-06, and his sophomore season wasn't half bad either, as he tallied 22 goals and 18 assists in 79 games.

    After that, it was all downhill, as he never recaptured his scoring touch. In 62 games in 2007-08, he only managed seven goals. Next season was more of the same, and he was traded to Phoenix with now-fellow KHL players Dmitri Kalinin and Nigel Dawes for Derek Morris at the trade deadline.

    Prucha was a productive third-line player for the Coyotes, but his role would dwindle, and he'd eventually be sent down to the AHL. After being waived, he signed with SKA St. Petersburg and never looked back.

    Next season will be his third full season with the team. 

Not-so-Honorable Mentions

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    Center Hugh Jessiman (In the system 2005-2009)

    Drafted in 2003, Rangers fans are still upset a decade later. He never suited up for the team, and that's all that needs to be said about that. It appears he's finally given up on North American hockey to perhaps cash in on what's left of his disappointing career.


    Center Fedor Fedorov (2005-2006)

    Fedorov played in 3 games for the Rangers in 2005-06. Sergei Fedorov's younger brother never stuck with the Vancouver Canucks, and it didn't work for him in New York either. He's been in the KHL ever since.


    Defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti (In the system 2006-2010)

    The hope was Sanguinetti would be the top-flight offensive defenseman the Rangers have lacked since Brian Leetch was traded. After an underwhelming season as a bottom-pairing defenseman with the Carolina Hurricanes, he signed a two-year contract with Atlant Moscow this offseason.


    Defenseman Dmitri Kalinin (2008-2009)

    Kalinin appeared in 58 games for the Rangers before being traded with Prucha and Dawes for Derek Morris. After only managing three goals between 2007 and 2009, he signed with Ufa Salavat Yulayev. He now plays for SKA St. Petersburg.


    Defenseman Ivan Baranka (In the system 2004-2008)

    Baranka only played one NHL game, but it at least included an asisst on one of the ugliest goals of all-time. The 6'3" defenseman had big upside, and the Rangers used a second-round pick on the WHL product in 2003. He left for the KHL in 2008 and never looked back.


    Defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh (2005-2007)

    Hearing Ozolinsh's name brings back some of the best hockey memories the 1990s had to offer. He was a part of the Rangers return to the NHL Playoffs in 2005-06 after going seven seasons without a berth. While he's hardly the player he once was, he will play for Dinamo Riga next year—the aforementioned Marcel Hossa's team.


    Defenseman Andrew Hutchinson (In the system 2007-2008)

    A part of the Matt Cullen trade, Hutchinson never suited up for the Rangers despite an elite season with the Hartford Wolf Pack in which he scored 18 goals and 46 assists in 67 games. He now plays for Barys Astana.


    Defenseman Alexei Semenov (Training camp invite, 2009, 2010)

    While general manager Glen Sather and Semenov had different ideas as to why, Semenov opted for Russia instead of the Rangers during training camp in 2009. 


    Goaltender Chris Holt (In the system 2005-2008)

    Holt never materialized in the NHL, but he's found a home in Russia. He only appeared in one game for the Rangers, in relief. He spent most of his time with the Rangers bouncing between Charlotte of the ECHL and Hartford in the AHL.

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