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UPDATE: Tikhonov "loaned" to KHL, will play for Red Army

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UPDATE @ 11/28/09, 5:00pm MST: The Coyotes' website states that Tikhonov was "loaned" to the KHL, presumably in the same way a prospect player is "loaned" back to his junior team which holds his rights. The loan is only valid until the end of the 2009-2010 season.

Phoenix Coyotes' prospect Viktor Tikhonov has left the San Antonio Rampage of the American Hockey League for the greener pastures - and bank accounts - of the Russian Kontinental Hockey League (KHL).

Tikhonov is the second high-profile NHL prospect defection to the KHL in as many weeks, following on the heels of Nikita Filatov's public departure from the Columbus Blue Jackets.

There is currently a dispute between the CSKA Red Army team and Severstal Cherepovets over which team holds the young prospect's rights. It is likely that CSKA will forfeit draft picks to acquire Tikhonov's rights to enable him to play for the Red Army squad.

The move is something of a surprise considering that Tikhonov's own stated intentions were to remain in the Coyotes' system until he achieved his goal of becoming an NHL regular. However, the Rampage are in a significant streak of consecutive defeats and have just fired their head coach; combined with the significant increase in tax-free salary money available in the KHL, there is certainly plenty of motivation for Tikhonov to return home to play.

Interestingly, Tikhonov's player card has been removed from the "Future Coyotes" section of the official Coyotes website, although his stats remain online there as well as at the San Antonio Rampage website.

The most likely scenario is that Tikhonov will finish the season with CSKA before returning to North America next year to attempt to make the Coyotes' roster out of training camp.

The young native of Riga, Latvia spent most of his upbringing in California, where his father Vasily was employed as a coach with the San Jose Sharks franchise. His grandfather Viktor is a Russian hockey legend and former coach of the Soviet National Team.

Tikhonov, the Coyotes' 28th overall selection in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, played in 61 games with the Coyotes last season, posting 8-8-16, a -3 and 20 PIM. For the Rampage this season, Tikhonov accumulated 2-6-8, +5 and 12 PIM.


Viktor Tikhonov

#41 / Right Wing / Phoenix Coyotes

6-2

187

May 12, 1988