Yesterday, Elliotte Friedman reported in his essential weekly column 31 Thoughts that the Arizona Coyotes are pursuing Russian winger Alexander Barabanov.
11. Most GMs who go overseas try to stay in Stealth Mode. Arizona GM John Chayka was photographed with Dan Milstein, who reps many Russian players. That is believed to be the third time Chayka’s visited winger Alexander Barabanov. The Coyotes are his most ardent pursuer.
While the Coyotes offense has improved from last season where they finished 28th in goals scored, there is still plenty of room for improvement. They are currently 19th in goals scored with 43 goals scored in 15 games this season.
Barabanov is a highly-skilled offensive winger who took a major step forward last season with SKA St. Petersburg. He set career highs in goals scored (17) and assists (29) in 58 games, and he was 18th in the KHL in points (46).
Barabanov has also found success in international tournaments. He was an Olympic gold medalist in 2018 and has represented Russia in World Championship twice where he won Bronze.
Signing players from the KHL can prove to be risky for NHL teams. The best-case scenario is Artemi Panarin who went from a 26-36-62 season in the KHL to a 30-47-77 rookie season in the NHL with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2015-16. Perhaps the worse-case scenario in recent times is Vadim Shipachyov who after a 26-50-76 season struggled with the Vegas Golden Knights, playing only 3 games and scoring 1 goal before going back to the KHL to finish the season with SKA St. Petersburg.