Who to part with?
A transfer window will open in the KHL soon. Dozens of players will enter the market of free agents, and top clubs will try their best to get the best. Ak Bars, which formed the backbone of the team last summer, will be strengthened only by points. But there are players in the lineup whose contracts are expiring.
BUSINESS Online talks about relegation candidates and those players who can stay.
CONTRACTS WERE TAKEN IN ADVANCE
The KHL season is not over yet, and many clubs, including Ak Bars, have launched a transfer campaign. This year, the Kazan club will not be so tense: the contracts will expire (April 30) only seven. The rest have long-term agreements that the management of Kazan concluded in 2021. Forwards Kirill Panyukov and Nikolai Kovalenko signed two-year contracts in the summer, and the striker Dmitry Kagarlitsky already in the course of the season extended the agreement until 2024. All this fits into the strategy of “Ak Bars”. “We have been making the backbone for several years,” said the club’s general manager Marat Valiullin.
Now all the hockey players are at the base, and, as usual, the club has prepared a number of events for them. This week Timur Bilyalov and Dmitry Voronkov met with players of the Ak Bars Academy, and on Saturday several players of the team will play a friendly football match with the amateur team “Amkal”, which is played by YouTube bloggers. In addition to the players, the head coach is now in Kazan Dmitry Quarterly. At this point, he has not yet met with the management of Ak Bars, so the issue with him has not yet been resolved. Kvartalnov still has little chance of staying. Also on April 30, the contracts with the coaching staff expire. One of the ways of Ak Bars is to leave Kvartalnov and radically renew his staff, so let’s analyze each coach individually.
Chances are high that Ak Bars will leave the Canadian Michael PelinoFinnish goalkeeping coach Jaakko Valkamaand also the Latvian trainer on physical training Normund Silins. In the current situation, it is difficult for foreigners to work in Russia: they simply cannot take their salaries abroad. At the same time, it is risky for the club itself to entrust important work with players to legionnaires, knowing what pressure they face at home. Moreover, you can ask questions to each of the specialists.
Pelino did not fulfill his main task: he did not put the game in the majority. Valkama supported the whole season Timur Bilyalov at a high level, but pumped up in a series with the “Vanguard”, where the goalkeeper did not save the team.
Silins failed to bring the team in the right physical shape to the start of the playoffs. The hockey players reached their peak only in the fourth or fifth meeting with Avangard. There is also an opinion that Silins overloads hockey players. Of all the trio, Pelino deserves the second chance, who came to the team at the end of the season. If the Canadian worked with players in the summer, when the majority is set, he could achieve a different result. But will Mike want that himself?
The contract expires Igor Gorbenko – a striker and majority coach who has the least chance of staying in Kazan. Most of the team this season was one of the worst in the league – the third since the end. But last year Kazan took 8th place. Yes, the change of performers had a strong effect on the team, but during the whole championship something could be done with the majority.
Defense coach Pavel Zubov has done well with defenders and has a stronger position in the club. Ak Bars kept him earlier, when Kvartalnov insisted on firing the specialist.
Evgeny Perov – the youth coach, like Gorbenko, did not deserve a new contract. In Kazan, he was responsible for integrating young players in the first team, but only three players were able to play stably in the team for three years. Artyom Galimov, Daniel Журавлёв, Dmitry Voronkov and Ilya Safonov. Until the end, his functions in Kvartalnov’s headquarters are unclear.
Also in the first team there is another goalkeeping coach Alexander Agopeev. He was taken to Ak Bars from the Bars Farm Club. In the future, he may replace Valkam, however, at first he will be hindered by lack of experience. After all, he worked with top KHL goalkeepers for only one year.
ZARIPOV AND LUKOYANOV CAN LEAVE
Among the players without contracts for next season is the goalkeeper Igor Bobkovdefenders Журавлёв и Roman Rukavishnikovattackers Danis Zaripov, Artyom Lukoyanov, Mikhail Glukhov and Nikita Dinyak. The agreement with the last player on the list has already been extended – the hockey player will stay in Kazan for two more seasons. Dinyak proved to be a universal hockey player, able to play in the top three and in the fourth. Nikita is slowly growing into a team leader and is not afraid to speak out at certain moments. As a checker, Dinyak will be one of the best players.
The main person in this list is Captain Zaripov. The hockey player said in the summer that this season will be the last in his career. However, over time, the plans changed. He is ready to continue his career, but only if Kvartalnov leaves Ak Bars. However, the club can abandon both. Zaripov could not prove himself in the series with “Avangard”, did not keep up with the speeds of modern hockey, in addition, had a bad effect on the atmosphere in the locker room, in conflict with Kvartalnov.
Zaripov’s friend and assistant – Artyom Lukoyanov – also remains without a contract. Information has leaked that he has extended the contract, but there are no signed papers yet. Moreover, according to our information, there is an option in which a new agreement will not be signed with the player – the club doubts that the hockey player is useful to the team, even with all his merits in the past.
There are really few arguments for prolonging Lukoyanov. Compared to last year, the power forward has lost a lot – he has zero blocked shots (against seven last year), only four power receptions (against 20). Of course, Lukoyanov did a lot for the club – he helped win the Gagarin Cup 2018, an experienced hockey player who can play in the minority. But it is obvious that it is not necessary to re-sign the player with the old money. According to various sources, his salary was 40-45 million rubles and in the current conditions to pay such money would be impractical. In addition, the athlete has big problems outside the ice that prevent him from showing his best hockey. And these difficulties have been going on for several years, so Lukoyanov is playing worse and worse every year…
Another checker – Glukhov – according to our information, should stay in Kazan: a universal hockey player who can play in attack and defense, happy in the capital of Tatarstan. Mikhail himself likes everything, so there are no obstacles to concluding a new contract. The player has long been his own: in the same power game and blocked shots Deaf surpasses, perhaps, the whole team. He has 6 blocked shots, 3 power tricks and at the same time he acts both in the center of the attack and from the edge. An important factor and character of the player: Mikhail is quite modest and has never set negative precedents in the locker room. As the Gagarin Cup in Kazan showed, a characteristic factor has become one of the key in the team’s game.
SHOULD BOBKOV AND RUKAVISHNIKOV OFFER A REDUCTION?
Bobkov and Rukavishnikov raise the most questions. Both have inflated contracts – 40 million rubles. Bobkov has played only 16 games this season, conceding an average of two goals. And Rukavishnikov failed the playoffs – 5 games, without points and -2 usefulness. He is a good seventh defender, but not for that kind of money. At the same time, they say that they are counting on the players, but they want them to meet the club and lower their contracts, otherwise they will have to part with them and look for a replacement in the market.
And the seventh hockey player who is left without a contract is Zhuravlev. The young defender became the team’s fourth top scorer in the playoffs, showing his best game in the last Gagarin Cup. Zhuravlyov was often criticized for banal mistakes in his zone, when the player was simply “eaten” in it, and he himself lost the power struggle. But over time, the hockey player “overgrown with meat”, got rid of instability and now looks like the most progressive defender. Therefore, there is no doubt that the contract with the limited free agent Zhuravlyov will be extended if he does not suddenly decide to leave for North America. The strategy of the overseas league in relation to players from Russia is still unclear.
It is worth noting the legionnaires whose contracts expire. Mark Barberio, Eric Fer, Jason Demers and Per Lindholm will definitely not return to Kazan. The latter, as reported in the media, has already found a team in Sweden. And here’s what concerns Jordan Will and Stephen Campfer – The question of them remains open. The players are currently on vacation and it is unknown whether they will return.