Hey, remember this guy? Plucky young guy Viktor Tikhonov? You may (or may not) have been wondering where he went off to and if we'd ever be seeing him again. He didn't make the Phoenix Coyotes out of camp this year and was sent down to the AHL. However, in his contract he had a provision that allowed him to be loaned to the KHL if he wasn't going to be seeing significant time with the Coyotes. So Viktor headed off to the land of his father, and more notably his famous grandfather of the same name, to play for the Severstal Cherepovets.
With Severstal Tikhonov was getting respectable numbers and more importantly getting lots and lots of ice time against some pretty good players. His 17:21 per game is 4th on his team for forwards and would amount to being a 2nd line winger on a team just above the AHL in terms of the level of play. Even more impressive is while Cherepovets didn't make the playoffs by a long shot (they were pretty terrible) Tikhonov was a +11 in only 25 games played. While +/- isn't the end all be all of stats, when the next closest forward is a +3? That's kind of significant. Here's a look at his stats for the season with Severstal...
#41 / Right Wing / Phoenix Coyotes
May 12, 1988
Not bad for a kid that was getting 3rd or 4th line minutes in the 2008-2009 season. The nice part is now that the rosters have expanded and we can pretty much have as many players as we want on the team he'll be returning shortly from Russia to provide yet another option to go to and to get a few games worth of experience on a playoff team.
That doesn't mean we'll be throwing him into the fire. Far from it. This is what should have happened last year with him just getting a taste of the NHL, but we simply weren't able to do that with him with how our team was built and with no one being able to get some experienced players. Tikhonov has the potential to be really good for us for a very long time. I'm excited to see what the kid can do once he returns. There's no specific date on when that will be, but it could be any time now with the KHL regular season over and Severstal not making the playoffs.