Can The Oilers Get More Help From The KHL?

Could Tikhonov be the answer at C? - Dale MacMillan

There are a number of KHL players who can help the Oilers at all levels. Could Craig MacTavish pursue more Russian players?

Earlier this week I noted that Craig MacTavish might be exploiting the rest of the NHL's aversion to KHL Players and how that might strengthen the Oilers' organization. Even though MacTavish has already drafted and signed four players from the KHL there are still a number of players ignored by the NHL who can give the Oilers organization a boost, both at the NHL level and the AHL level with the Oklahoma City Barons. Below is a group of targets that Craig MacTavish may already have in his sights, given his tactics this summer:

Patrick Thoresen - I've noted that Thoresen is one of the ideal targets for the extra centre the Oilers need, but don't seem to want to sign. Unfortunately, Thoresen is under contract through next season (h/t Oi) with SKA in the KHL. Unless he has an out clause, Thoresen is a non-starter in the conversation.

Viktor Tikhonov - Scott Reynolds identified Tikhonov as a possible target for that extra centre and it's a very intriguing idea, one that I've warmed up to as the solution to the Oilers' issues. Unlike Thoresen, Tikhonov is not signed yet. Tikhonov has some height, but is on the thin side at 6'2" 188 lbs. Tikhonov last played in the NHL in 2008-09 as a 20-year old with the Phoenix Coyotes. Tikhonov was last in ES ice time per game for the Coyotes and he played a toughs role for the team with Martin Hanzal and Daniel Winnik. Even in that difficult role, he still managed 8 goals and 8 assists in 61 games, which puts him 12th in pts/game on last year's Oilers. He tooled around the AHL before moving back to the KHL and has become an extremely effective forward for SKA St. Petersburg. He was 3rd in ice time for SKA and scored 27 points in 39 games, and NLHE of .54 pts/game, good enough for 7th on last year's Oilers team. Though Tony Mårtensson centered the line, Tikhonov has been successful in limited duty in the faceoff circle. Tikhonov and Ales Hemsky might be an effective combination.

Zakhar Arzamastsev - Regular readers know how much I like Arzamastsev and how he compared to Dmitri Orlov. Arzamastsev's offense hasn't kept pace with Orlov's, but he's become a durable and reliable defenseman for Metallurg Novokuznetsk. Arzamastsev had just 51 shots on goal in 52 games last season and totaled 13 points. He was 4th in time on ice amongst Metallurg's defensemen and did not take regular shifts on the Metallurg power play. He was even, trailing Brent Sopel's +2 on the blueline. Arzamastsev just turned 20 and has exhausted his draft eligibility so he will become an unrestricted free agent on August 1st. He's definitely worth a look for the Barons, and could grow into an NHL defenseman.

Igor Ozhiganov - Ozhiganov is another 20 year old defenseman (he'll turn 21 in October) but comes with a reputation as an extremely physical player. He's 6'2" 214 lbs and he's very strong on the puck and in the corners. He played 2nd pairing minutes for 49 games on an absolutely awful Khabarovsk Amur team (2nd worst team in the league), but managed 15 points and 53 shots. He was -17 while the top pairing was -13 and -14. Ozhiganov was traded from Amur to CSKA in January and flipped to Sibir Novosibirsk in May. To compare his play to someone familiar to Oilers fans - Oklahoma City Barons fan favorite Kirill Tulupov was traded to Amur in November and managed to appear in just 16 games for 14:17 per game, while Ozhiganov logged 20:07 per game. Ozhiganov might be another project, but if Tulupov was capable of solid minutes in Oklahoma City at 23, Ozhiganov would be better and might have a longer term shot at the NHL.

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