While it has not been officially confirmed, The Vancouver Canucks look to have locked up 2006 sixth-round pick Sergei Shirokov. Could this be another late round Russian steal? Well, he is no Pavel Bure, but he is pretty good.
According to the website russianprospects.com, as well as others, it seems that an August 10 deadline to have Shirokov signed with his club CSKA Moscow has passed, and, to quote the article:
"I'm leaving for the NHL with a clean conscience, I always dreamed to play in the world's strongest league. There are no resentments with CSKA, before the session I had a talk with head coach Sergei Nemchinov and we understood each other. I will soon leave to take part to Vancouver's development camp."
There is a thin possibility that the Moscow team could trade him elsewhere in the KHL, but since the deadline has passed, it seems that he is now suspended by the KHL for one season.
According to the player, he would accept a trade within the KHL, but now that it looks like the time for that has passed. It seems likely the player will be in the NHL or AHL next season.
His stats for last year (56GP/17G/23A/40PTS) were good enough for 23rd overall in that league. He is described as a strong skater with vision and finishing abilities. Being a sixth-rounder is not a barometer of his talent as Russian players have fallen in draft rankings for several years now. That fall has far more to do with politics than talent.
While it sounds like this initially began as a dispute with his Moscow team, we should all remember that there were numerous reports that he had signed with the Canucks in early June. While they were never confirmed, it looks like Gillis's low key approach and persistence may have enriched the talent pool in Vancouver once again.
Whether he makes the team or not, (and as a 23-year-old, with improving stats every year in the KHL, he will be given a chance to prove himself at camp I am sure), having another talented player here in Vancouver or in Winnipeg with the Moose can never be bad.
Definitely not as highly touted as Pavel Bure, its good to see the team once again dip into the Russian talent pool. Here's hoping he is the first Russian in the Blue and Green since Artem Chubarov in 03/04. And that he turns out more Pavel than Artem.
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