The Shipachyov Phenomenon

ShipachyovHabs

Every season it seems, there is one player who gains a lot of attention around the NHL, tagged as the best player available not already playing in the league and whose rights don’t belong to anyone. The race is on for teams to sign that long-shot player and fans all hope that he will chose their favourite team. Weather they are players from a European league or a late blooming US College stand out, or a College player deciding not to sign with his original team (a loop-hole that must be closed in my opinion), someone gathers NHL attention.

This season is no different, as Vadim Shipachyov (or Shipachev depending who you ask) happen to be THE guy. While few were talking about him only a few weeks ago, his performance at the last World Hockey Championships has created a race for the player who was jokingly called by his teammates the “Russian Crosby”, due primarily with the number he is wearing. Shipachyov finished top-scorer at the Worlds with six goals and 18 points in 10 games played. He finished three points ahead of last year’s “unknown”, Artemi Panarin, who signed with the Chicago Blackhawks and is favourite to win last year’s Calder Trophy as rookie of the year.

It has been widely publicized that Montreal Canadiens’ GM Marc Bergevin has shown interest in Shipachyov for quite some time, but many teams have since joined the derby to try to lure him to play for them instead.

 

Who is he?

Vadim Schipachyov was borned in March 1987 in Cherepovets, Russia. The 29 year-old left-handed shooting forward has been playing in the KHL, where he has accumulated 111 goals and 336 points in 395 games, making him one of the best offensive players in the league. Standing at 6-feet tall and weighing in at 187 pounds, he can be physically outmatched at times, although this might not have been as much of a problem on the big ice surface across the big pond. Here’s a scouting report on Shipachyov from Elite Prospects, dating of 2013:450px-Vadim_Shipachev_-_Switzerland_vs._Russia,_8th_April_2011_(1)

Shipachyov is a skilled center with excellent on-ice vision. He skates very well and with a fluid stride. Owns great offensive instincts and likes to have the puck on his stick. Could improve his all-around game. Isn’t overly efficient in physical battles.
– Ulf Andersson, EP

Rumours

Reporter Yvon Pedneault is claiming today, May 23rd, that an informant told him on the weekend that the Canadiens and Shipachyov are close to a contract, stating that progress has been made. Who this “informant” is remains to be determined, and so is the credibility of this person. What we do know is that information isn’t coming from the Habs, as Bergevin and his team like to keep their cards close to their chest.

It is important to note that the sought-after Russian had for teammate Canadiens’ defenseman Alexei Emelin, and it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to think that he had some discussions with the rugged defenseman about life in Montreal. Having said that, he was also playing with Panarin and likely did the same about Chicago, and Ovechkin who might have spoken favourably about Washington…

Whatever happens will happen and while it looks like the Canadiens have a chance at signing Shipachyov, Habs’ fans need to remain calm about it for two reasons: 1- is that until a contract is signed and approved by the NHL, anything can happen, and 2- even if he signed in Montreal, it’s a big step from the KHL to the NHL and one has to wonder why he hasn’t drawn that kind of attention prior to him being… 29 years old.

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