Despite criticisms of it being propped-up by oligarchs and the Russian government, the Kontinental League is proving to be a viable place for players to earn a living – and in many cases a better living than they can earn anywhere else.
The KHL is fast becoming a 21st-century version of the World Hockey Association. And with the launch of the English version of its website, the league is keeping up with NHL’s Joneses, and allowing hockey fans who don’t speak Russian to keep up on the Mironovs, Afanasenkovs and Tsvetkovs.
This week THN gives the KHL a little love by counting down its top 10 scorers. All players have skated in approximately 25 games.
10. Sergei Mozyakin, Atlant Mytishchi, 10 goals, 15 assists, 25 points
The 28-year-old was the 263rd pick of the 2002 draft by Columbus and, according to the Internet Hockey Database played four games for Val d’Or of the Quebec League in the late 1990s. He led the Russian circuit in scoring last season with 76 points.
9. Patrick Thoresen, Salavat Yulaev Ufa, 12-13-25
Thoresen is a veteran of 106 NHL games, last playing for Philadelphia two seasons ago. The 26-year-old averaged 1.3 points per game for Lugano in the Swiss League last year.
8. Marcel Hossa, Dynamo Riga, 17-8-25
After playing parts of six NHL seasons, Hossa, the brother of Chicago’s Marian, moved to the KHL last year to play for its Latvian entry. His 17 goals lead the league as of Wednesday; his two shorthanded snipes were also tied for the league lead.
7. Jozef Stumpel, Barys Astana, 8-18-26
The former Bruin, King and Panther is a veteran of 957 NHL games beginning way back in 1991-92. The 37-year-old joined Astana in 2008 and is currently just eight points off his season total from last year.
6. Josef Vasicek, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, 12-14-26
The eight-season NHL vet was the 91st pick of the 1998 draft by Carolina and looked to be developing into a decent NHL scorer before his career stalled. Now he’s more than a decent KHL scorer.
5. Sergei Zinovyev, Salavat Yulaev Ufa, 7-20-27
The Bruins chose the 29-year-old with the 73rd pick of the 2000 draft, but he played just 14 games combined for Boston and American League Providence in 2003-04 before returning to Russia.
4. Mattias Weinhandl, Dynamo Moscow, 13-16-29
The 78th pick of the 1999 draft by the Islanders played 182 NHL games during parts of four seasons before heading back to Europe in 2007-08. He had 32 points in 41 games for Moscow last season.
3. Alexander Radulov, Salavat Yulaev Ufa, 13-17-30
The poster boy for KHL-NHL relationship issues is a really good player, maybe the best outside of the NHL. The KHL is a veterans’ circuit, but last year as a 22-year-old he finished 13th in league scoring with 48 points. His 1.3 points-per-game average has him on pace to smash that total and is the best of anyone on our list.
2. Alexei Yashin, SKA St. Petersburg, 9-22-31
The old warhorse is still at it, lighting up the KHL as consistently as anyone has. This is the 36-year-old’s third season in Russia since being bought out by the Islanders (he is still their third-highest salary cap hit) and his first with SKA.
1. Maxim Sushinsky, SKA St. Petersburg, 11-20-31
Yashin’s linemate was the 132nd pick of the 2000 draft by Minnesota. He played 30 games for the Wild in 2000-01 (7-4-11), but returned to Russia that season. The 35-year-old is in his 18th season in Russia’s top league. His 254 goals and 618 points in 728 games equal about as prolific a scoring career as you get in Russia.
The THN.com Top 10 appears Wednesdays only on TheHockeyNews.com.
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