Not satisfied with just moving big names and eliminating salary cap concerns, Stan Bowman and the Chicago Blackhawks have gone out and added a Russian forward.
The name may look familiar, as Viktor Tikhonov is the grandson of former Soviet national team coach Viktor Tikhonov. The younger Tikhonov (don’t worry, the Blackhawks haven’t signed a deceased hockey coach) will join the Blackhawks on a one-year, $1.04 million deal, several sources announced early Wednesday afternoon.
Tikhonov was drafted 28th overall by the Phoenix Coyotes in the 2008 NHL entry draft. The Coyotes signed him to a three-year entry-level contract, and he played in 61 games for the Yotes during the 2008-09 season, tallying eight goals and 16 points.
He played sparingly for the Coyotes from that time on, resigning with them on a one-year deal in the summer of 2011.
But the bulk of Tikhonov’s hockey career has taken place in his native Russia. He has been part of the Kontinental Hockey League team SKA Saint Petersburg the last four years, playing between 39 and 52 games each of the four season. In those four seasons, he maxed out at 18 goals and 34 points in 2013-14. He also played in the KHL playoffs all four seasons with Saint Petersburg, capturing 18 points in the 2012-13 playoffs alone.
Da Windy City
A nice connection for the Blackhawks is Tikhonov being a former teammate of Artemi Panarin, who will be fighting for a roster spot in Chicago ahead of the 2015-16 season. The two played together on the KHL’s Saint Petersburg club and helped it win the Gagarin Cup for the first time in franchise history to conclude the 2014-15 season.
Tikhonov also was part of a gold-medal-winning Russian team at the 2014 IIHF World Championship in Belarus and a silver-medal-earning squad at the 2015 Men’s World Ice Hockey Championships in the Czech Republic. Back in 2008, he helped the Russian Junior National Team to a bronze medal at the World Junior Ice Hockey Championships in the Czech Republic.
With the Blackhawks loading up on forwards in this deal and in yesterday’s Brandon Saad trade, the writing may very well be on the wall for on-the-fence free agents such as Brad Richards and Andrew Desjardins. There’s still a chance either guy could come back on a small deal (probably not both at this point), but the Blackhawks are going to have plenty of young forwards battling for a big-league roster spot come August and September.
On Hockey’s Future, which does great work rating prospects in the NHL and beyond, Tikhonov was described as a “solid two-way winger possessing good size and the capability of playing a grinding style of game.” The website also said he “is tough to knock of the puck, and his quick hands and strength make him an elusive player both along the boards and around the net.” A two-way winger is something Bowman would love to give Chicago coach Joel Quenneville, who tends to stick with defensively sound players longer than those focused solely on offense.
Tikhonov will not be coming in to immediately take a roster spot — he’ll have to earn it. But it’s a relatively cheap and young signing that could benefit the Blackhawks in the short-run and long-run.
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