Sunday, September 14, 2008

Zubarev settling in with new KHL team Atlant

A few weeks ago, Thrashers prospect Andrei Zubarev was traded from Ak Bars Kazan to Atlant Mytischi (formerly called Khimik). He was swapped for another defenseman, 23-year-old Dmitri Kosmachov (CLB). Trades are rare in Russia, but may become more prevalent under the reorganized Continental Hockey League. Zubarev has now played in three of the team's five games, with no points. Meanwhile, Atlant Mystischi is off to a good start, tops in the standings.

It's ironic that Zubarev's rights are owned by a team called Atlant and a team called Atlanta. The Thrashers drafted the 21-year-old in the sixth round in 2005.

Last year, under Russian Super League rules, teams could dress 22 skaters, so they usually dressed 8 defensemen and 12 forwards. This year, under KHL rules, they can only dress 21 skaters, so they generally go with 7 defenders.

Below is an email from HF's Russia correspondent, in response to some of the questions I had on Zubarev's trade. Note that he uses the term "line" to mean five-man unit, not just forward line.

"Zubarev was the spare [7th defender], playing with Johansson and/or Mukhachev and was on Bumagin/Lazarev’s line [unit]. About ice time, it’s a bit too early to judge. He got good space in Kazan, but I think that he needed some fresh air as his career started going downhill last season…the whole team was having some difficulty and among Bilyaletdinov’s desperation moves there was some shuffle in the lineup that cost him his usual place. Right now he’s playing well even though he didn’t play today against Dynamo Riga as I believe the coach wanted to try some young players, a thing that happens in Russia especially in the first part of the season."

Interestingly, former Ottawa goaltender Ray Emery is also on the team and has already lost his starting spot to the younger Vitaly Kolesnik, who was formerly a Colorado Avalanche prospect.

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