Today’s Prospects News & Rumors column is a trek around the globe. We start in Russia where the biggest surprise pick of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft scored when it matters the most. From there, we will head over to Denmark where the Ottawa Senators signed a young and impressive netminder. Then it is off to Ohio where the Columbus Blue Jackets signed a true home-grown talent.
Yegor Chinakhov Opens Gagarin Cup Finals With a Bang
The Blue Jackets caused a lot of jaws to drop and heads to get scratched when they selected Chinakhov with the 21st overall pick of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. This may go down as one of the biggest reaches in the history of the draft. Many experts had Chinakhov slotted to be picked in the fifth round or later. Even if he does turn into an All-Star at the NHL, general manager Jarmo Kekalainen will likely still be criticized for not waiting a couple more rounds before selecting him.
Regardless of what happens, Chinakhov has to put in the work and show exactly what the Blue Jackets saw in him to invest such a high pick in him. He and his Avangard Omsk teammates opened up the Gagarin Cup Finals today against the traditional powerhouse of CSKA Moscow. Chinakhov got things started on the right foot by scoring the first goal of the Kontinental Hockey League’s (KHL) championship series.
The 20-year-old right wing got his 2020-21 season off to a hot start, but his production tapered a bit as the schedule wore on. He finished with a respectable 10 goals and 17 points in 32 KHL games. Before the start of today’s Gagarin Cup opener, he had four goals and six points in 16 playoff games.
Mads Sogaard Signs with Senators
As we’ve mentioned quite a few times before, the Senators have built an impressive prospect pool over the last couple of years. They added to this group on Saturday when they signed Sogaard to a three-year, entry-level contract.
The 20-year-old goaltender is coming off his first season with the Esbjerg Energy in Metal Ligan, Denmark’s top professional. He went 10-5-1 with a .922 save percentage (SV%) and a league-leading 2.58 goals-against average (GAA).
“Mads’ development continued to strongly progress while playing overseas in 2020-21,” Senators general manager Pierre Dorion said in an official statement. “He’s a big, athletic presence in the net and showcases a very competitive style. We’re anticipating a nice transition to North America next season.”
Even though he played in his native Denmark this season, he is no stranger to North America. He spent two seasons with the Medicine Hat Tigers in the Western Hockey League (WHL) where he had a .915 SV% and 2.58 GAA in 74 games. Prior to that, he played one season with the Austin Bruins in the North American Hockey League (NAHL).
Carson Meyer Stays Home
In addition to watching Chinakhov score in Russia, the Blue Jackets added to their organization as well. They signed Meyer to a one-year entry-level contract on Saturday. The deal will kick at the start of the 2021-22 season.
The 23-year-old forward was drafted in the sixth round (179th overall) of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. He has played well in his first professional season with the Cleveland Monsters in the American Hockey League (AHL). In 13 games, he has five goals and 12 points. He celebrated his first pro contract in style on Saturday by picking up an assist on the game-winning goal during the Monsters’ 6-3 victory over the Rochester Americans.
Meyer was born in nearby Powell, OH, and played for the very successful Ohio AAA Blue Jackets. This program has produced quite a few NHL players in recent years including Connor Murphy, Sean Kuraly, and Jack Roslovic. From there he split his college career between Miami University and Ohio State. This Ohio boy has never had to leave the state to play and the trend will continue for at least one more season.