The KHL’s leaderboard is peppered with NHL players who felt like staying in shape and earning some dollars instead of sitting on the couch getting fat during the lockout. Because of that, the list of the top-10 scoring leaders includes Evgeni Malkin, Ilya Kovalchuk, Pavel Datsyuk, Alexander Ovechkin and Predator-of-yore Alexander Radulov.

None of those fine gents, however, sits first in points. That honour belongs to Sergei Moyzakin.

Moyzakin was drafted in the ninth round (263rd) by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2002, and like most Russian picks Columbus has made, he didn’t pan out for the organization. More specifically, he didn’t suit up for a single game for them.

He’s now 31 years old and past his prime, but it’s worth asking: shouldn’t some offensively deprived team (like Columbus!) offer this guy a wad of money to have him give it a go on this side of the pond? Talent like his isn’t exactly easy to come by.

He’s a smaller player, yes. He’s unproven in the North American game. He’s playing with Evgeni Malkin. I know all these things. But you can’t just plug anyone into his situation and have them do what he’s doing this year. And it’s not like this is out of the blue for the guy. Check out his stats since the lockout (games played, goals, assists, points):

Never once below 20 goals (note that KHL seasons are 52 games), only once below a point-per-game.

From a bio on “Up The Pucks,” here’s a description of him:

His style of play is that of the typical small, but fast forward. He’s 5’10″, and only weighs in at 170 pounds. Mozyakin’s able to get by defenders with his speed and puck control (he’s usually in the control relays at KHL All-Star game skills competitions) , and has a wicked wrist shot. Since leaving CSKA, he’s concentrated on improving his passing skills as well, and is usually over 30 assists every season.

Internationally, Mozyakin has been a mainstay for Russia’s senior squad over the past few years, playing in four World Championships, including back-to-back championships in 2008 and 2009. His scoring prowess hasn’t exactly translated well on the international stage, though he’s posted decent assist numbers.

All I know is that I’m impressed he’s able to hang with the big boys. It’s possible he simply doesn’t want to come to North America, but almost everyone has a price. And for the most part, when there’s elite talent dangling unclaimed out there, NHL teams aren’t afraid to pay it.

(s/t to @ThePredatorial)

Comments (13)

  1. If a team like Columbus pays decent money to bring him to the states and he doesn’t produce right away then it’s going to be another wave of “enigmatic Russian” none-sense all over the media again.

    I don’t think the money is worth that kind of grief.

  2. Have to wonder if Pittsburgh would take a chance on him. Pair him with Malkin and Kunitz (Familiarity) and move Neal to play with Crosby.

    Two pretty unreal scoring options with Sutter left to play the defensive line role and a minimal scoring burden.

    • You had same thoughts as me, Brad.

      For what it’s worth, it’s expected that Crosby will get “his” wingers of Kunitz and Dupuis when the lockout ends.

      Leaving Neal and Malkin to have a big ? on their other wing. The team has wanted Tangradi to take that spot for a while, but he has 1 goal in 40 career NHL games and probably will never be productive enough to be NHL Top 6 material.

      Worth it to me to give Moyz a chance for a year, if it doesn’t work they’ve got Beau Bennett (21 points in 23 AHL games as a 21 year old) in the wings for next season, maybe.

  3. Pittsburgh has 5 really good Top 6 forwards and then nothing. Like Eric Tangradi, Dustin Jeffrey or Tyler Kennedy level of nothing.

    I wouldn’t be adverse to giving it a shot to keep ‘em together. But then again, I don’t coach Dan Bylsma north/south, grind, grind, forecheck hockey either. (And I haven’t won a Jack Adams).

  4. Put me on a wing with Malkin and KHL goalies and I’ll put up 50 points, JB.

    That said, someone should take a shot at him. But, let me point this out: There’s no guarantee that the NHL will offer him more than the KHL, depending on the outcome of the lockout. If you were this guy, would you rather rake in tax free money in your homeland, or go halfway across the world, probably make less money, and play more games?

  5. 31 year old 5’10” 170lb finesse player? Your cat has a better chance of succeeding in the NHL. (The grey one, the fluffy one would be too soft in the corners.)

    • I don’t think he’d be a first page of the leaderboard guy, but if he can get 50 pts he’d have value.

  6. 2-3 years ago I was running Columbus in an online sim game (using Eastside Hockey Manager), and successfully argued that Mozyakin was a lot better than he was rated in the game. Not only was he a league leader while playing for Mytishchi Atlant, but he finished each season 20+ points up on the team’s second leading scorer.

    However, I do think he is too small and wouldn’t make it in North America. There’s a reason they didn’t take him to the 2010 Olympics, after all, and he’s only got 10 points in 21 world championship games.

  7. Judging by his size (and KHL stats), he might be one of those guys who has skills and finish, but is deadweight on the boards and in traffic. Guys like that can have more success on the big ice in the K, but have very limited success on the small ice in North America. For another example, see Morozov, Aleksey.

  8. Over there, he’s making bank (tax free), he’s a celebrated star, respected leader, and is a contributing member to a very good team.

    What exactly would he have to gain by crossing the pond?

  9. Its too bad these foreign players arent given the same shot as Canadian kids in the NHL.

    I watched both of Shirokov’s game for the Canucks a couple years ago and he was excellent, then he got benched against CBJ for aggressively forechecking instead of being the second man high. Then they sent him back to the KHL.

    Even if a team was smart enough to bring this guy in, theyd probably cut him for some ridiculous reason, like too many east-west passes. Or not dumping it in enough.

  10. At a glance he reminds me of Jiri Hudler so he could be very useful on the right kind of team.

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