Responses from sports federations and leagues to Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine varied widely, ranging from outright banning athletes from Russia and Belarus from competitions in figure skating and track and field and on the sacred turf of Wimbledon, to accepting a deal – common practice in the NHL.
The league’s biggest sanction to date has been the decision not to bring the Stanley Cup to Russia this summer if the trophy makes the rounds among winners, which will only affect the Colorado Avalanche’s Valeri Nichushkin. But it’s clear that tensions between the NHL and Russia have been escalating, and it was reported last week that Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Ivan Fedotov had been taken to a remote military base in northern Russia last week for alleged plans to go with fraudulent means of traveling to North America military identification. There are never any guarantees in the NHL draft — some kids peak at 18, others take years to mature — but picking Russian players this year seemed particularly risky.
But the Ducks, drafting 10th chose Russian-born defenseman Pavel Mintyukov, 18, after their fourth straight season outside of the playoffs, believing they can avoid potential travel issues as he has spent the last two seasons in North America and has no intention of returning to Russia . If they’re right, they may have found a gem to bolster a large, fledgling Defense Corps.
He is left handed, he is 6ft 2 tall and weighs about 190 pounds. Last season he played for a poor team with Saginaw, Michigan of the Ontario (Canada) Junior League. He scored 17 goals and 62 points in 67 games, ranking third among defenders in the league. He previously played for Dynamo Moscow’s youth teams and was known as a good goalscorer, good at reading plays and knowing when to step in to support the attacking side. “He’s been on the radar all season,” said Ducks general manager Pat Verbeek. “What I love about the player is that he is very creative offensively from the defensive end. He has really good competition. Good hockey sense.”
With the 22ndnd Pick, acquired when they sold Hampus Lindholm to the Boston Bruins, the Ducks chose Quebec Major Junior Hockey League center Nathan Gaucher. He had 31 goals and 57 points in 66 games with the Quebec Ramparts last season and three goals and nine points in 12 playoff games.
The Washington Capitals also picked a Russian in 20th place in Ivan Miroshnichenko. He’s recovering from Hodgkin’s lymphoma but was in the audience at the draft in Montreal. At 24, Minnesota chose right winger Danila Yurov of Magnitogorsk, a Russian junior team.
The Montreal Canadiens started with an upset when they picked up Slovakia forward Juraj Slafkovsky with the first overall win.
Slafkovsky was 17 when he was voted the Beijing Olympic Ice Hockey Tournament Most Valuable Player for leading his team to a bronze medal, but Canadian-born Shane Wright was considered a safe pick for the overall win. Wright fell to Seattle in 4th place after New Jersey picked Slovakia defenseman Simon Nemec and Arizona picked Pittsburgh-born center Logan Cooley from the US National Team Development Program. It was the first time players from Slovakia were selected 1-2.
“I still can’t believe this actually happened,” Slafkovsky said in an interview on ESPN. Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes said Slafkovsky “has a confidence in him. His character and personality are engaging and he attracts people.
The second to seventh rounds will take place on Friday.
The Kings didn’t have a choice for the first round because they traded the 19th Selection to Minnesota to acquire the rights to Kevin Fiala, whom they later signed to a seven-year contract. You own the 51St86th116th148th and 180th chooses. But the Kings weren’t idle on Thursday: They announced they had hired former goaltender Manon Rheaume as a hockey operations consultant/prospect with a focus on player development. Rheaume became the first woman to play in an NHL game in 1992 when she played in an exhibition game for Tampa Bay Goals. She also won an Olympic silver medal with Canada at the 1998 Winter Olympics.
Before the draft began, the Chicago Blackhawks traded forward Alex DeBrincat to Ottawa for seventh and 39th place finishesth picks in this year’s draft and a third-round pick in 2024. That’s big haul for the rebuilding Blackhawks and a risk for Ottawa, as DeBrincat has just one season left before he’s eligible for the limited free hand comes. During the draft, the Blackhawks traded Kirby Dach, who was a third-round pick in 2019, to Montreal for first- and third-round picks that year.
Earlier in the day, recently crowned Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche, expecting salary cap issues, acquired Alexandar Georgiev from the New York Rangers and is expected to let Darcy Kuemper go. Colorado general manager Joe Sakic, who was honored Thursday as the league’s top GM, gave up third-round and fifth-round picks this year and a third-round pick next year.
The relationship between the NHL and its Russian players appears to be fragile, and some Russians who may have been drafted earlier undoubtedly dropped a few spots because of uncertainty about being allowed to play in North America. Sport and politics are often uncomfortable partners.
https://www.latimes.com/sports/hockey/story/2022-07-07/column-ducks-draft-pick-may-boost-blue-line Elliott: Ducks’ draft pick may boost blue line