Alexei Yashin

UNIONDALE, NY - MARCH 25: Alexei Yashin #79 of the New York Islanders shoots the puck against the New York Rangers on March 25, 2007 at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

It’s been a few years since Alexei Yashin departed the NHL for Russia.  When he left, he was still a very good forward; a little on the overpaid side, to be sure, but still very good.

It’s been four years.  Has anything changed?  Is he likely to be a good gamble for the Islanders, should they and he be able to work out a deal?

One interesting item worth mentioning is that Yashin’s playoff performance in the Russian Super League and the Kontinental Hockey League has been very good.  He got knocked for not showing up in the post season at times during his NHL career, but he’s been money in Russia.  He actually out-produced his regular season results in the KHL over the last four seasons.

More interesting things happen when we apply the lens of Desjardins’ league equivalencies to Yashin’s Russian numbers.  The first two seasons are consistent – Yashin’s in the 50-60 point range, which is good but not especially spectacular.

The third and fourth seasons are where things get really interesting:

  • 2009-10: 82GP – 22G – 56A – 78PTS
  • 2010-11: 82GP – 20G – 24A – 44PTS

Yashin’s 2009-10 season makes him look a lot like the guy he was when he walked away from the NHL.  The season he just completed makes him look like a lot less than that.  After three seasons of leading or narrowly missing the team scoring lead, Yashin finished tied for fifth in points on his team (with Maxim Afinogenov).  Among the players who finished ahead of him are Petr Cajanek and Mattias Weinhandl; hardly impressive comparables.

Despite that, if the reported dollars (in the $2.0 million range) are correct, this is a pretty risk-free move for the Islanders.  If Yashin manages to come back and score 40 points, that’s not a bad return for the money.  If he can do more than that, the Islanders get a pretty good player and Yashin gets the chance at an encore.

Either way, anything that helps bring talent to the NHL from the KHL is a good thing for fans.