Mikhail Vorobyov rejoins Salavat Yulaev, Traktor renews imports, Lalonde finds a new home. KHL.ru presents last week’s top transfers.

Mikhail Vorobyov

From Philadelphia Flyers to Salavat Yulaev

Even though he left Russia at mere 20 years of age, Mikhail Vorobyov already has 78 KHL games under his belt. Now, at his 23, he decided to return to his hometown club with a three-year deal. “I’m grateful to Salavat Yulaev for offering me such a long-term contract,” Vorobyov told Russia-hockey.ru commenting his return. “I think that returning home is a step forward in my career.”

After an excellent showing at the 2017 WJC, where he had ten assists in seven games centering Kirill Kaprizov, Vorobyov moved overseas, signing with the Philadelphia Flyers. He gathered some good experience in the system, with about 200 games played between the NHL and the AHL. However, after his entry-level contract with the Flyers run out, he decided to return home for more time on ice and a more prominent role in the team. As a product of the local hockey program, Vorobyov shouldn’t have to lose time on adaptation and deliver right away for the Green Men.

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Nick Bailen, Tomas Hyka, and Lukas Sedlak

New long-term deals with Traktor

As the salary cap forces teams to much more careful programming, Traktor decided to lock down to long-term contracts three of its best players. Defenseman Nick Bailen and forwards Tomas Hyka and Lukas Sedlak are now signed through the 2022-2023 season.

It’s undoubtedly a good move by the Chelyabinsk franchise: these players showed their worth last year, contributing with points and leadership to the cause. Considering that Traktor also will count on Czech goalie Roman Will and Swedish blueliner Lawrence Pilut, it can be said that Chelyabinsk will have one of the best foreign legions in the league. It should be noted that Bailen won’t count as an import as he holds Belarusian citizenship). However, it’s also true that the trio wasn’t enough last year to reach the postseason — Traktor’s new-old head coach Anvar Gatiyatulin will have a lot to work on for the 2020-2021 campaign.

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Shawn Lalonde

From Admiral to Severstal

After Admiral announced to be forced to hold its operations for the 2020-2021 season, many good players had to search a new home. Shawn Lalonde found his new headquarters this week, in Cherepovets. The Steelmen needed a tough defenseman to strengthen their defensive lineup — Lalonde is going to form an interesting pair with Finn Veli-Matti Vittasmaki, who joined Severstal in May. With Lalonde, bench boss Gennady Razin will have a full set of five international players as he will also count on forwards Roberts Bukarts, Jindrich Abdul, and Adam Liska. After last year’s failure in missing postseason qualification, this year, Razin will have at his disposal a more experienced contingent ready to battle. Last week, Severstal also acquired the young defenseman Maxim Afanasyev from Lokomotiv.

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Nikita Popugayev

From Adirondack Thunder to Dynamo Moscow

After spending last year and a part of the 2018-2019 campaign, the large-framed winger Nikita Popugayev returned from America. He signed a try-out contract with Dynamo Moscow, but considering his size, experience, and resilience, he has all the chances to win a full-time contract with the Blue-and-Whites. Popugayev has plenty of experience overseas, having played in both the junior and the senior leagues in North America. His strong play of late should help him become part of an ambitious Dynamo Moscow lineup for the upcoming season.

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