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Is Dmitry Zhukenov Going to Russia?

Former Canucks’ fourth-round pick Dmitry Zhukenov is having the type of playoff run for the QMJHL’s Chicoutimi Sagueneens that makes clear why Vancouver was first interested in the Russian import. He’s in an eight-way tie for fifth in league scoring, and with goals like the one he scored in last night’s game, it’s not hard to see why. The kid can play.

The question now for the Canucks is whether he’ll continue to dazzle with highlight reel goals on this side of the Atlantic. Just over a week ago, the website www.EliteProspects.com showed Zhukenov as a “doubtful transfer” to sign with the KHL’s Avangard Omsk, which essentially means that there are reports of preliminary discussions. Not long afterwards, KHL insider Aivis Kalnins confirmed Zhukenov signing with Omsk as a distinct possibility.

I reached out to the Canucks for clarity on the situation, and while they’ve heard rumblings of Zhukenov’s KHL interest, they haven’t heard anything beyond that. Certainly nothing concrete.

To that exact end, the Canucks confirmed Ryan Biech’s assessment of the situation from when he profiled Zhukenov’s contractual situation just a few months prior. If Zhukenov does indeed sign with Omsk, the Canucks will hold his rights until June 1st, 2019.

Dmitry Zhukenov is an interesting case, as the Canucks retain his rights for four years despite playing the QMJHL. This is because the Canucks selected Zhukenov from the MHL. He was then selected in the CHL import draft and moved to Chicoutimi in the QMJHL. This is outlined in 8.6d of the NHL/NHLPA CBA:

So since the Canucks drafted Dmitry Zhukenov in the 2015 NHL Entry draft, they retain his negotiating rights until June 1, 2019. If by that time, they have not signed him to an entry-level contract, he would become a UFA.

I reached out to Kalnins for further commentary on the situation. Kalnins suggested that Omsk’s hiring of a new head coach could slow down the process, but that they are likely to begin recruiting players soon regardless. He also added that, based on what he knows about the situation, he expects that Zhukenov will sign with Omsk, with the caveat that he’d return to North America whenever ready.

Where things get interesting here is if the contract Zhukenov signs with Omsk (and that’s still a big if) goes beyond June 1st, 2019. The Canucks indicated that most often the team retains the player’s rights, save for rare exceptions, and that he’ll likely remain on their reserve list for the foreseeable future. As an example, they confirmed that they still hold Evgeny Gladskikh’s rights, and they drafted him in 2001.

Zhukenov finished his sophomore season with the Sagueneens with 65 points (18 goals and 47 assists) in 64 games. As of my writing this, Zhukenov has nine points in five playoff games. His quantitative bona fides don’t scream NHL success, but he’s always played an understated, mature type of 200-foot game that, perhaps, isn’t fully accounted for through this lens of prospect analysis.

For example, Zhukenov currently has a 22.31% Relative Goals for, which suggests his team fairs substantially better at controlling the flow of goals at even strength with Zhukenov on the ice than without him.

Regardless, it’s difficult to get too worked up over a prospect that the Prospect Graduation Probabilities System (or pGPS for short) last indicated has a 1.7% expected success rate based on players with a similar statistical and stature based profile. No matter how sound Zhukenov’s qualitative credentials, the grim reality is he’s a massive long shot ever to play an NHL game.

When we last checked in with Zhukenov, he was the tenth-ranked prospect in the Canucks’ system per our mid-season prospect profile rankings. It will be interesting to see whether he does, in fact, bolt for the KHL and what impact that has on the young Russian’s development.

  • Bud Poile

    Imagine you’re a teenager playing hockey in a foreign land with no immediate future other than playing in Utica.
    Going home to see friends and family while making good money is perfect.
    Zhukenov will grow into a man and has the skills plus the N.A. experience to make it back.

    • truthseeker

      You’re writing off Juolevi after one season where he was suppose to stay in Junior to develop? lol….

      That’s pretty stupid.

      I suppose you must be one of those “we should have taken tkachuk people….lol..

      yeah take a winger….the most worthless position in hockey next to the back up goalie….over a potential top 4 d man…..hahaha…

      Do you know how many wingers scored 20 to 30 goals? More than you can count. How many did tkachuk have?

      The best winger in the NHL the past what….5 seasons brought back a number 4 D man for the oilers.

      All Juolevi has to do is be a top 4 and we could trade him for 3 tkachuks…..

      Talk about clueless…..lol…you people who seem to have no clue about what is valued in the NHL these days……hint….it’s not wingers…

  • wojohowitz

    “The Canucks indicated that most often the team retains the player’s rights”

    The Canucks are very aware of their problems in asset management so they will `spin` any potential problem away until it is hopefully forgotten. The words `most often` are indicative of that spin and are so vague they can be considered meaningless.

      • wojohowitz

        We have already read your defence of their bad decisions and spin concerning Rodin, Tryamkin, Stecher, Virtanen, McKenzie, Cedarholm, Blomstrand, Sutter, Sbisa, Eriksson and Kassian. Did I miss anybody.

        • DJ_44

          There’s a long list. Where is the asset management a problem. Taking a chance on Rodin? Giving two rookie defensemen (one drafted in the third round and one acquired at no cost through free agency)…who will both, along with Juolevi, form a solid core on the backend.. a 20 year old high end prospect developing in the AHL……three more prospects, a 20-goal scorer, a good third pairing d-man that will probably be picked in expansion; a solid, albeit having an off year, free agent winger, and a drunk.

          I do not think the term “asset management” means what you think it means.

          • wojohowitz

            Juolevi? I already know you`re an apologist but now you are looking a little clueless. At the moment there are six players drafted after Juolevi that had a better season than he did. In fact you`re reminding me of Gillis when he was bragging about Hodgson being a great pick and the future of the franchise. Keep shilling for Benning – maybe he will finally get lucky and pick the right guy although I have my doubts as it`s been rumoured he will pick another defenceman.

          • DJ_44

            Yes, Olli Juolevi. Wait til he gets to the pros.

            As far as the “shill for Benning” crap; give it a rest. I see the direction the team is going and I do not disagree. I do not agree with every move, but there are far more positives the negatives.

            Since you appear unable to project into the pros …. he made it easier for you. How does Boeser.look?

          • TD

            It is ridiculous to look at Juolevi right now and base anything his past season. Not every player matures at the same age and defencemen take longer to develop than forwards. Juolevi will have to develop into a top pairing defence man for it not to be a bust, but there is plenty of time for that to occur. This pick needs to be accessed in 3-5 years. That takes nothing away from Tkachuk, he is the real deal, but it is way too early for a final verdict on the pick. Juolevi was way better in the playoffs than Sergachev. From what I read, it wasn’t even close.

            Because d men take longer to develop, it was likely smart for Benning to build the back end first. The Canucks will have several more years of weak teams to pick high end forwards. In the mean time, Juolevi will be developing.

          • Peezy F

            Did any Juolevi basher follow the first round of OHL playoffs where Juolevi scored 3 goals, including the Game 7 series winner, and an assist against the Windsor spitfires ? Sergachev had 3 points in comparison, 1 goal 2 assists. Juolevi was the 1st star of Game 7. How is it as easy for people to think Sergachev has surpassed Juolevi by a mile?

            Juolevi did follow that up with 4 assists including 2 assists in the Game 7 OT loss to Erie.

  • Chris the Curmudgeon

    I don’t think this hurts us any. He’s a few years away from the NHL, if he makes it at all, and the KHL is as good a place as any for him to play out those development years. Hold onto his rights, and if he looks like a good NHL prospect, bring him back down the road. It’s a win-win, really, because we don’t need to use a contract spot to hold his rights, and the KHL is probably equivalent or better in competition level to the AHL.