A pair of young players from KHL side SKA Saint Petersburg could be on their way to the NHL.
Defenseman Artyom Zub and right winger Alexander Barabanov are generating interest in North America after thriving with one of the top hockey teams in Russia. The Ottawa Senators are reportedly in pursuit of Zub, while the Toronto Maple Leafs are among the parties keeping an eye on Barabanov.
Both players have earned interest from a handful of NHL franchises, but they have reportedly homed in on the Canadian outfits in the middle of a wave of teams signing college and international free agents.
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According to TSN's Darren Dreger, the Senators are expected to land Zub.
The 24-year-old won gold at the 2018 Winter Olympics with the Olympic Athletes from Russia, and he has played for SKA in the KHL since 2016. In his most recent KHL season, Zub produced 22 points and recorded a plus-minus of 35 over 57 contests—the league's joint-best record.
The Senators are in need of defensive help, as they have allowed 243 goals this season, which is the second-worst total in the NHL. Zub's addition should be the start of a retooling with eyes on the 2020-21 campaign.
In addition to its first-round pick, Ottawa is in possession of the San Jose Sharks' first-rounder. Since the Sharks are at the bottom of the Western Conference, the Senators have a good chance of landing two of the top three picks in the 2020 NHL draft.
Ottawa also has the most salary-cap space to work with in the offseason, per Spotrac, which opens the door for more additions who could help to boost it back up the standings next season.
According to Sport-Express' Igor Eronko, a report in Russia stated Barabanov is in line to sign with the Maple Leafs.
The 22-year-old right winger produced 20 points in 43 games for SKA this season after putting up 46 points in 2018-19.
Dreger added that there it is "not guaranteed" for Barabanov to make the jump from the KHL to NHL, but the player and his agent will begin to talk with teams in the coming days.
Although his totals dipped this season, he is a year removed from producing career bests in goals and assists. Barabanov also carries plenty of international experience. He was one of the many SKA players to win gold at the 2018 Winter Olympics.
If he lands in North America, Barabanov would provide the Maple Leafs, or whichever team he signs with, some depth at right wing.
He may not immediately land on the top line, but if he works hard enough and contributes offensively like he did in 2018-19, he could become on of the league's most dynamic right wingers.
According to the New York Post's Larry Brooks, the New York Rangers "never came close" to dealing Pavel Buchnevich.
The Russian hit a career high in points with 46 before the league suspended play because of the coronavirus pandemic. Buchnevich is five goals off his career-best tally, and he already surpassed his top assist mark with 30 helpers.
The left winger is on a seven-game point streak for a Rangers side fighting for its Eastern Conference playoff life. New York is two points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for the second wild-card position.
Buchnevich is one of nine Rangers making more than $3 million this season, and he has one year left on his contract before he becomes an unrestricted free agent. He could have been viewed as expendable with so many talented wingers on the depth chart, including Artemi Panarin and Chris Kreider, but the Blueshirts opted to keep him at February's trade deadline.
When the season resumes, Buchnevich could be a vital part of the final playoff push that will see the Rangers compete with four other teams for one of the two wild-card positions.