The Las Vegas Golden Knights signed the first Russian in their short-lived franchise history last night. The team announced the acquisition of 30-year-old center Vadim Shipachyov with a two-year contract for $9 million.
Having most recently won his second Gagarin Cup with the KHL’s SKA St.Petersburg, the Cherepovets native is coming off a career year which saw him score 76 points (26G, 50A), good for third in the league.
Shipachyov’s name was linked with multiple NHL teams but it was the newest club who was able to offer such a generous contract for a player who has been a fixture with the Russian national team since 2014.
With the success of the likes of Artemi Panarin and Alexander Radulov, it’s no wonder teams are more open to bringing in Russians into their mix. Shipachyov’s former teammate and ex-NHL star, Ilya Kovalchuk, is rumored to be heading back stateside after spending four years in the K.
It’s interesting to note the timing of this signing as Shipachyov joins Vegas and the NHL in what will be an Olympic year. With the NHL’s refusal to send players to the games for first time since 1994 it could mean the 30-year-old will put his nationalistic pride on hold to represent his country on the biggest stage.