KHL expanding to China in 2016-17, South Korea could be next

Jared Clinton
Roman Rotenberg (Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty Images)

The first expansion team for the 2016-17 season has been awarded, but it won’t be playing in Las Vegas or Quebec City. The KHL announced Monday the league will have a team from Beijing joining the league, and the new club will begin playing in September 2016, according to TASS.

Beijing’s KHL team, which is yet unnamed, will play at the 18,000-seat MasterCard Center in Beijing, which currently plays host to the Chinese Basketball Association’s Beijing Ducks. The arena was also host to the basketball tournament at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The team will be backed by Russian and Chinese businesses, and the league will also be supplying Beijing with a development academy. Read more

Watch KHL goaltender make unbelievable desperation glove save

Jared Clinton
Nikita Bespalov (via KHL/YouTube)

Goaltender Nikita Bespalov didn’t have his name called at the NHL draft, he’s never played a game on an international stage and for much of his career he’s been a minor league or backup netminder. But Bespalov, 27, is going to be turning some heads thanks to an incredible glove save.

In a contest against Ugra Khanty-Mansiysk, Bespalov got the call between the pipes and had backstopped Sibir to a 4-2 lead heading into the third period. Sibir scored early in the final frame to extend the lead to 5-2 and shortly thereafter Bespalov made a stop that should have him on highlight reels all season long.

After a puck battle behind the net, Ugra’s Evgeny Lapenkov emerged with the puck and made a perfect, seeing-eye pass to Pavel Varfolomeyev that had Bespalov entirely out of position. In one motion, Varfolomeyev took a swipe at the puck and knocked it towards the net, where Bespalov made a desperation glove stop that’s worthy of repeat viewings: Read more

Alexander Semin clears waivers, could return to the KHL

Jared Clinton
Alexander Semin (Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

Alexander Semin has officially been demoted to the AHL after being placed on waivers Monday by the Montreal Canadiens.

Semin, 31, is coming off of a lower-body injury that has kept him out of the past five games for Montreal and his demotion came after a difficult start to his season which saw him become a healthy scratch for eight games and muster just one goal and four points in 15 games. Semin officially cleared waivers Tuesday at noon, which resulted in the Canadiens sending the veteran winger to AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps.

What this means for Semin’s future is hard to say, but it’s not likely the winger will be content to play in the AHL for long. After signing a one-year, $1.1-million deal with the Canadiens in the off-season, it was expected that Semin would, at the very least, factor in as a depth scorer and play third-line minutes for Montreal. Instead, he didn’t fit into coach Michel Therrien’s plans and has subsequently found himself in the AHL for the first time since his rookie season. Read more

Watch KHLer make one-footed, no-look pass for incredible goal

Jared Clinton
Alexander Rybakov makes an unbelievable pass to Maxim Yakutsenya (via KHL/YouTube)

The fake wraparound to no-look pass has become a go-to move for skillful playmakers this season, but center Alexander Rybakov, who plays for the KHL’s Traktor Chelyabinsk, put a new spin on the fake shot to no-look feed to produce one of the most gorgeous assists you’ll see all season.

During Sunday’s game against Spartak Moscow, Rybakov took a short lateral pass from winger Anton Glinkin and appeared to have enough room to fire a shot on goal. With defenders giving chase, Rybakov loaded up to shoot and then made a one-footed, no-look, behind-the-back pass that’s deserving of a spot on every highlight reel: Read more

After failing to crack Predators, KHL goal-scoring champ Moses likely headed back to Russia

Jared Clinton
Steve Moses (via KHL/YouTube)

One of the more intriguing free agents coming over from the KHL this off-season was Steve Moses, the 26-year-old sniper who tore up the primarily Russian league in 2014-15 and set the league’s goal-scoring record with 36 tallies in 60 games with Finnish KHL team Jokerit.

Moses’ outstanding season landed him offers from North America, and he ended up signing a one-year, $1-million deal with the Nashville Predators. But Moses didn’t end up making the Predators out of training camp and was subsequently sent to the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals. While he was never a sure-thing to make the NHL club, it was believed he could at least contribute in a depth role. But now he’s on his way out. Read more

Scary scene: KHL player suffers head injury after blocking shot with face

Jared Clinton
Nikolai Stasenko (via KHL/YouTube)

At some point, it might be worth askingwhether or not the KHL is cursed because the league can’t escape the scary scenes.

Monday, video surfaced of an incredibly frightening incident in which veteran Vitaly Sitnikov had his throat cut by a skate, and there’s another scary scene coming out of the primarily Russian league Tuesday, as Belarussian defenseman Nikolai Stasenko, who plays for Severstal, took a slapshot to the face while attempting to lay down to block an attempt by Sibir’s Sergei Shumakov.

If that’s not scary enough, Stasenko appears to go completely limp for a brief moment following the shot block before being attended to be the medical teams at the game. He couldn’t leave the ice under his own power and had to be taken from the ice on a stretcher: Read more

Move over, Ovie – Evgeny Kuznetsov is Washington’s top Russian right now

Ryan Kennedy
Evgeny Kuznetsov (Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)

Good things come to those who wait and the Washington Capitals were very patient with Evgeny Kuznetsov. Despite drafting the Russian center in 2010, Washington didn’t get to sample the kid’s skills until the second half of 2013-14. In fact, he was still Calder-eligible last season. But based on his pedigree, there was no way Kuznetsov would experience a sophomore slump this year and actually the opposite has been true: at 23 years of age, he has hit his NHL stride in a serious way with 26 points through 23 games.

That makes Kuznetsov the leading scorer on the Caps – ahead of Alex Ovechkin – and sixth overall in the NHL. Just don’t ask him if he’s comfortable playing here now.

Read more

KHL player has throat cut by errant skate (Warning: Graphic)

Jared Clinton
Vitaly Sitnikov attended to on the Yugra bench (via KHL/YouTube)

When sticks catch a player up high, the result can sometimes be ugly, but nothing can compare to how frightening injuries can be when an errant skate blade comes up and comes in contact with a player’s head or neck.

During KHL action Sunday, former NHLer Ladislav Nagy, now playing for Slovan in the KHL, was involved in a horrifying incident when his skate came up and sliced Yugra Khanty-Mansiysk’s Vitaly Sitnikov. Early in the third period of the contest, Nagy had cut into the middle of the ice and fired a shot on goal when his skates collided with Sitnikov’s stick. The stick in Nagy’s skates caused him to fall forwards, which sent his feet into the air and made his right skate shoot upwards into Sitnikov’s throat.

Sitnikov immediately threw off his gloves and skated for the bench. Thankfully, the Yugra medical staff was quick to react:

(Warning: The injury is gruesome and some blood is shown in the video.) Read more