According to an unconfirmed report from a former KHL reporter simply named “vorky”, several Russian NHLers are expected to leave North America this summer and return to Russia and the KHL. Amongst the players named are top prospects Anton Slepyshev of the Edmonton Oilers, Viktor Antipin of the Buffalo Sabres, Nikita Soshnikov of the St. Louis Blues and Rinat Valiev of the Montreal Canadiens. Veteran Nikolay Kulemin of the New York Islanders is perhaps the most prominent player named in the report.
The list reads as follows:
.@Sport_BO: Following players coming to #KHL this offseason - Nikolay Kulemin (#NYI), Anton Slepyshev (#Oilers), Viktor Antipin (#Sabres), Nikita Soshnikov (#Blues), Rinat Valiev (#Habs), Sergej Tolchinsky (#Canes), Radel Fazleev (#Flyers), Andrei Pedan (#Pens), cont. #NHL
Yaroslav Dyblenko (#NJDevils), Yakov Trenin (#Preds), Sergei Boykov (#Avs #Avalanche) #NHL
Surprising to see names like Soshnikov, Valiev and Andrei Pedan included as all three players were moved via trade during the 2017-18 campaign. Both Soshnikov and Valiev were traded by the Toronto Maple Leafs in separate transactions and Pedan was traded by the Vancouver Canucks to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for former top prospect Derrick Pouliot.
Slephyshev is another surprising name, especially considering that the Oilers are so thin in terms of depth on the wing. The 6’2”, 220 pound 23 year old left winger managed six goals and 12 points in 50 points with the Oilers this past season.
Sabres fans may also be wondering what the deal is with Antipin. The 25 year old defenseman was one of the first players signed by new general manager Jason Botterill when he was hired last offseason and managed to play 47 games during his rookie season in the NHL. The former KHL star managed just 10 assists on the season and was the victim of a gruesome injury late in the season thanks to an ugly hit from Nashville Predators forward Scott Hartnell. KHL insider Aivins Kalnins has in fact confirmed that Antipin will be returning to the KHL, but that, just as there was when he decided to join the NHL, there will be a bidding war for his services.