It’s been awhile since the Blackhawks landed a player with high pedigree from the KHL. The last player the Blackhawks brought over from the KHL as a free agent became a fan favorite very quickly. If you knew I was eluding to Artemi Panarin, good job! Now, the Blackhawks are reportedly interested in another significant KHL free agent, forward Damir Zhafyarov.
Zhafyarov has been dominating overseas, racking up 20 goals and 58 points in 54 KHL games, and reportedly wants to come over to North America. As noted in the tweet, Zhafyarov will turn 27 in a month, but he is still a prime-aged player for the Blackhawks to target. Over the course of his KHL career, which began in 2012-13, Zhafyarov has accumulated 196 points in 424 games. It seems that he is beginning to find his stride this season with Torpedo.
Based on the limited footage available on him, he is a player with great skill and has no fear for the front of the net. He is small, standing 5’9″ and weighing 175 pounds, but many of his goals in the highlight video below show him crashing the net and taking significant contact on his way there. Also make sure to check out the number choice…
The HC Torpedo forward shows great skill, both shooting the puck as well as passing. It’s uncertain if he possesses a two-way element to his game, but its safe to say the Blackhawks are more interested in his scoring prowess than his defensive abilities. As shown by some fancy hands.
The Blackhawks have had success with players from overseas. Currently, Dominik Kubalik and Pius Suter are making major impacts on the Blackhawks roster. Over the years, players such as Erik Gustafsson, Artemi Panarin, Michal Kempny, Jan Rutta, and Dominik Kahun have signed with the Blackhawks and made an impact on either the Blackhawks, or another team once they moved on.
Kempny and Rutta for example, both have Stanley Cups on their resume with the Washington Capitals and Tampa Bay Lightning, respectively.
Per Mario Tirabassi of Bleacher Nation, Sports-Express has been credible in the past, most notably linking the Blackhawks to Panarin in 2015. It’s safe to assume that these rumors have validity and are not just speculation.
Zhafyarov’s KHL contract officially ends on April 30, meaning he can sign with the Blackhawks, Red Wings, or any other club at that time.