Alexander Radulov defected to the KHL in 2008, despite still having a contract with the Nashville Predators. (Photo by Jiri Kolis/Bongarts/Getty Images)
Kontinental League teams have played 24 to 29 games and since we don’t often give the KHL a lot of love around here – not because we don’t love the KHL, with its low-scoring games devoid of almost any physicality outside of pure thuggery such as the kind displayed by Vityaz Chekhov – we decided it was about time.
We’re counting down the KHL’s top scorers, with a twist. If you haven’t played in the NHL, you don’t make the list. And with all the back-and-forth between the two leagues, there are just four names out of the top 14 scorers who didn’t make the rundown.
Here is THN.com’s Top 10 KHL scorers who used to be NHLers:
10. Alexei Morozov, Ak Bars Kazan
The shifty winger played seven seasons in Pittsburgh from 1997 to 2004 and has been a top scorer in Russia’s Elite League and the KHL ever since. He’s also been a star for Russia on the international scene and, at 33, is still putting up numbers. His six goals and 23 points are tied for 13th in the league.
9. Jiri Novotny, Barys Astana
Novotny, 27, topped out at eight goals and 22 points in 2007-08 with Columbus and after one more NHL season, went to Russia. The Czech center’s eight goals and 23 points have him tied with Morozov.
8. Niko Kapanen, Ak Bars Kazan
The Finnish national played parts of six NHL seasons with Dallas, Atlanta and Phoenix. He went to the KHL in 2008 and this year the diminutive center has two goals and 24 points (Henrik Sedin-like numbers), which ties him for ninth in the league.
7. Pavol Demitra, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl
In the Olympics for Slovakia and with Vancouver as recently as last season Demitra, 35, was a good producer for many of his 16 years in the NHL, topping out at 93 points in 2002-03 with St. Louis. Now the winger is finishing things off as a KHL rookie and doing well for himself: his five goals and 24 points place him in a four-way tie for ninth in league scoring.
6. Brandon Bochenski, Barys Astana
Bochenski, 28, played 156 games for six NHL teams. Traded four times in the NHL, Bochenski is now scoring prodigiously in Russia. His 13 goals and 24 points put him in that ninth-place logjam.
5. Josef Vasicek, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl
The hulking 6-foot-5, 215-pound center spent seven professional seasons west of the Atlantic and won a Stanley Cup with Carolina in 2006. The 2010 Czech Olympian took his talents to Russia two years ago and has fared well. This season the 30-year-old is eighth overall in the KHL with 14 goals and 25 points.
4. Lukas Kaspar, Barys Astana
The 22nd pick of the 2004 draft is built like an NHL power forward and is powering his way through KHL competition this year. After spending brief parts of two seasons with San Jose, the 25-year-old Czech winger went to the KHL last season. Now he’s fifth in KHL scoring with 16 goals and 27 points.
3. Patrick Thoresen, Salavat Yulaev Ufa
The 27-year-old spent two seasons in the NHL splitting time between Edmonton and Philadelphia. Speedy, but not the biggest of guys, the 5-foot-11 Thoresen is perfectly suited to the KHL and it shows. The 2010 Norwegian Olympian is fourth in KHL scoring with 16 goals and 28 points.
2. Mattias Weinhandl, SKA Saint Petersburg
The 2010 Swedish Olympian spent parts of four seasons in the NHL with the Islanders and Wild. Weinhandl, 30, is doing it all for SKA with 17 goals and 30 points, good for second in the league.
1. Alexander Radulov, Salavat Yulaev Ufa
Oh, how Nashville would love to have the poster boy for modern-day defections on its squad. The biggest, baddest KHL scorer of them all has more assists than any other KHLer has points and has added seven goals for 38 points. If the 24-year-old ever decides to return to the NHL (don’t bet on it considering he’d have to fulfill the final year of his entry level deal) he’d instantly become the Preds’ most dangerous forward.
The THN.com Top 10 appears Wednesdays only on TheHockeyNews.com.
If you enjoy this feature, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine for the exclusive countdown, Starting From 5, and other great features from the world of hockey.