Hurricanes Sign Defenseman Igor Knyazev

By Brandon LeBourveau
The Carolina Hurricanes have announced that the team has come to terms with Russian defenseman Igor Knyazev, who was selected 15th overall in the 1st Round of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. Knyazev signed a three year deal, including a $900,000 signing bonus, the most ever given to a Hurricanes’ 1st round entry draft pick.

“We are very pleased to sign Igor,” assistant general manager Jason Karmanos said. “This will give him the opportunity to make our team. This will also get him acclimated to North America as soon as possible.”

Since Knyazev was drafted out of Europe, he has the ability to play in the AHL at 18 years old, unlike players who were drafted out of the OHL, WHL or QMJHL. With the Hurricanes lack of depth on defense, Knyazev will have a good chance of cracking the lineup. He plays a solid all-around game, and doesn’t make many mistakes on the ice. Knyazev plays what is known as a two-way style of game, as he can rush the puck up the ice and chip in offensively while also playing very good defensively and physically in his own zone.

At only 18 years old, rushing Knyazev into the NHL may be too heavy of a burden for him at such a young age. A season or two in the minors would certainly help him get comfortable with North America and the style of game that is played over here, but we’ll have to see how he performs in training camp. With Igor Knyazev and also David Tanabe in the organization, the Hurricanes have two top-notch young defenseman that they can build their team around in the future.