The National Hockey League’s 2020-21 season is finally in full swing. The American Hockey League (AHL) will be next to get going within the next couple of weeks and the teams are starting to get a good idea of what their rosters will look like. Plus, we check in on a pair of Russian-born prospects who are doing well in the Kontinental Hockey League at home and the NCAA abroad.
Bokk Heads to the Windy City
The Chicago Wolves are in for a very unique season as is the rest of the AHL. They are entering their first season as the affiliate for the Carolina Hurricanes after partnering with the Vegas Golden Knights for the past three years. When their rivals to the north, the Milwaukee Admirals, announced they are opted out of the 2020-21 season, the Wolves agreed to take on prospects from the Nashville Predators as well. When the puck finally drops on the season, Chicago will have an impressive lineup of NHL prospects.
They learned this morning that forward Dominik Bokk will be heading to the AHL for the upcoming season. He was originally drafted in the first round (25th overall) of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft by the St. Louis Blues. He was one of the main pieces in the 2019 trade that sent defenseman Justin Faulk from the Hurricanes to the Blues.
The 20-year-old winger played 20 Swedish Hockey League games for Djurgårdens IF this season, where he scored two goals and three points. He was one of the big producers for Germany at the 2020 World Junior Championships. He scored six goals and a team-high eight points in seven games.
Bokk is one of four former first-round draft picks, under the age of 21, currently on the Wolves’ roster. He joins fellow Hurricanes prospects Seth Jarvis and Ryan Suzuki and Predators 2019 first rounder Philip Tomasino. The Wolves have received 14 players from Carolina and 13 from Nashville. They will play all their home games at their training facility as opposed to the Allstate Arena, the team’s home for the previous 26 seasons.
Firstov’s Big Return
The Minnesota Wild finally got to see Kirill Kaprizov on the NHL ice this week and he proved that the wait was worth it. They have another Russian-born prospect who had a huge night in the NCAA.
Vladislav Firstov played in his first game for the UConn Huskies on Friday night since returning from playing for Russia in the World Junior Championship. He came up big with two goals and two assists in their 6-5 win over the University of New Hampshire.
He lit the lamp to tie the game at 2-2, late in the first period, by using the top portion of the net for his first goal of the season.
His second tally of the night came on a second-period power play. Firstov was left all alone at the right dot and he made the Wildcats pay by blasting a one-timer home to give UConn a 4-3 lead.
Firstov, drafted by the Wild in the second round (42nd overall) of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, did not find the scoresheet in five WJC games for Russia. He had 11 goals and 23 points in 34 games during his freshman season for the Huskies. Before that, he spent the 2018-19 season in the United States Hockey League (USHL). He scored 26 goals and 58 points in 62 games for the Waterloo Black Hawks.
Alexeyev Impressing in Russia
Playing in the KHL as an up-and-coming player can be tough. Traditionally, as is the case in most European professional leagues, it is hard for younger players to gain meaningful ice time. They are usually stuck behind veterans on the depth charts so their overall numbers don’t always tell the whole story of how well they are playing.
Defenseman Alexander Alexeyev is doing well for himself during his loan to Salavat Yulaev. The Washington Capitals’ 2018 first-round pick (31st overall) has been made the most out of playing in his home country for the first time since 2016.
He scored the game-winning goal in Thursday’s 6-3 victory over Barys.
Alexeyev continued his hot streak on Saturday by scoring on the power play to tie the game at 2-2, early in the second period. Salavat Yulaev ended up losing 3-2 to Metallurg with defenseman Philip Holm scoring the game-winning goal. Holm spent part of last season with the Chicago Blackhawks organization, playing with the Rockford IceHogs in the AHL.
The 21-year-old Alexeyev now has six goals and 13 points, in 43 KHL contests, while averaging just over 18 minutes a game. He spent the 2019-20 season with the Hershey Bears in the AHL, scoring three goals and 21 points and finishing with a plus-eight rating in 58 games. It will be interesting to see if he heads back to North America after the KHL season concludes in April.