The Oilers Can Find Defensive Help In The KHL

Александр Головко

Like many Oiler fans, I’ve been looking beyond this season since, since… early on.

Some look at Bob McKenzie & Central Scouting. Me? I look at Euro UFAs.

The most promising Euro UFA this spring is Swede Patrick Hersley and anyone who has been paying even a little bit of attention knows that the Oilers have been talking to him.

Hersley, a defenseman originally drafted in 2005 by the Kings, is big lad at 209 lbs and has a PPG of .61. By comparison, former NHLer Matt Gilroy has been scoring at a .53 clip this season. Hersley’s scouting report at Hockey’s Future reads, "Hersley is a big and strong defenseman. He is quite reliable in his own end and handles the physical play very well. His slapshot from the blueline is hard and rather accurate and his passing game is good too. Furthermore he reads the game well and has good mobility."

"Are there other good lookin’ D over there?", you ask.

Well, yeah, a few. Three of them are 22 years old.

Hersley’s Sibir Novosibirsk team-mate, Igor Ozhiganov, looks the best of the rest. Like Hersley, Ozhiganov shoots right. Ozhiganov is bigger than Hersley, a little over 6’ 2" and he weighs about 216. At 22, he’s been playing the third most minutes for Novosibirsk, about 19 minutes a night. He has 7 goals and 12 assists in in 54 games. My crueler side looks forward to play-by-play guys trying to wrap their tongues around his name. My left brain would love to see him playing 19+ minutes a night in Bakersfield alongside Darnell Nurse for a season. And then the following season…. At Hockey’s Future his scouting report reads "Strong physically, will go for the body instead of the poke check most of the time. His shot actually has potential, having scored from the blue a few times."

Another interesting 22-year-old is left-handed Zakhar Arzamastsev. He’s smaller than Ozhiganov, about 205, and generates less offense – 11 points in 52 games for Severstal Cherepovets. Like Ozhiganov [Ozzie?], he is trusted with about 19 minutes of ice-time a night and is a plus player. Guess who said this "Arzamastsev is more of a defensive defenseman with some interesting offensive instincts. Gifted with a good shot and decent passing abilities, the Novokuznetsk, Russia, native needs to improve his defensive player, even though he received some good experience in his KHL rookie season. In addition to his shot and passing abilities, Arzamastsev reads the play well and possesses some much needed hockey intelligence. He has a lot to work on, but is a good project defenseman." Your first two guesses don’t count.

Our third young hopeful plays in the Czech League. His name is Vojtech Mozik; he shoots right and has Plzen emblazoned on his jersey. Like the two Russians, he was never drafted by a NHL squad. However, he has been invited by the New York Rangers to their last two Summer Development Camps. His stats are good, 24 points in 46 games with 90 PIMS! ["Go-for-the-body-Ozzie" has only 62.] I can’t find TOI on the Extraliga website and, uncharacteristically, Hockey’s Future doesn’t know Mozik exists.

There you have a group of D that could help a team out now and into the future. It’s a good time to be looking at KHLers. The backlash against Putin’s imperial ambitions has cratered the ruble and damaged the incomes of the robber barons who bankroll the KHL. Rumour has it there is going to be a drastic cut in the KHL’s salary cap next season.

I have also identified a bunch Forwards and Goalies and I may get around to putting up a post about them in the next few days.

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