KHL Players of the Month – October

The Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) recognizes the top forward, defenseman, goaltender, and rookie each month.  Selections are made by the KHL Statistics and Information Bureau based upon both statistical results and overall performance.  The October winners are:

Forward of the Month

Ilya Kovalchuk, SKA St. Petersburg

Kovalchuk scored 21 points – nine goals and 12 assists – in 13 games in October, along with a +10 for the month.  He currently sits in fourth place in overall scoring with 26 points for the season. Not too shabby for a guy who’s played fewer games than everyone ahead of him; his 1.625 points per game is the highest in the league.  The way he’s playing, it won’t be long until he’s atop the scoring leaderboard for the KHL.

Here’s his spectacular hat trick in a come-from-behind win against CSKA Moscow:

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Defenseman of the Month

Anton Belov, Avangard Omsk

Belov scored eight points – four goals, four assists – in 12 games, while finishing the month with a plus-minus rating of +11.  He got off to a strong start in October, but has tailed off.  His seven goals led all defensemen midway through the month; since then, he’s been passed by Alexander Osipov of Amur Khabarovsk (10 goals) and SKA St. Petersburg’s Kevin Dallman (8).

His game-tying blast from the point knotted up their game against Severstal with just four seconds left.  Avangard went on to pick up the win in the shootout.

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Goaltender of the Month

Alexander Yeryomenko, Dynamo Moscow

Yeryomenko posted an 8-1 record in October, winning three games via shutout for league-leading Dynamo.  He allowed an average of 1.15 goals per game and stopped 95.9% of the shots he faced during the month.  For the season, his 1.76 goals against average is third-best in the league, his 93.6% save percentage is fourth among netminders with at least 15 games, and his 11 wins are second highest in the KHL.

Of course, when it comes to the team’s position atop the standings – and puck possession in general – it doesn’t hurt to have Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom in the lineup.

With the standout season he’s having, Yeryomenko is stopping the puck even when it’s behind him.  Check out this amazing behind-the-back stick save with Slovan Bratislava’s Miroslav Satan right on the doorstep:

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Rookie of the Month

Nail Yakupov, Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk

The first overall pick in the 2012 NHL Draft scored 14 points – ten goals and four assists –  in 11 games during October.  The Edmonton Oilers’ prospect is tied for seventh in the league in goal scoring; his 0.77 goals per game is the highest in the KHL.

Here’s his first goal in the KHL, coming October 3rd against Sergei Bobrovsky of SKA St. Petersburg:

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