The 2012-13 KHL season, the fifth season for this largely Russian league, has just begun, with some changes in team lineups in part due to the NHL lockout. The league has welcomed Ukrainian team Donbass Donetsk, who played last season in the Russian High League, and HC Slovan Bratislava, one of the most reputable teams in Europe and a multiple winner of the Slovakian Championship title. Moreover, HC Lev relocated from the Slovakian city of Poprad to Prague in the Czech Republic.
The annual Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, considered by some to be the most prestigeous international hockey competition of players under eighteen years of age, was held last week in Břeclav, Czech Republic, and Piešťany, Slovakia. And as is usually the case in the world of hockey, some results and statistics were simply surprising.
In the early going of the 2011-12 season, center Mikhail Grigorenko was considered by some to be the top prospect available for the 2012 NHL Draft. By season's end, however, the talented Russian was dropping in the rankings, finally being chosen with the 12th selection overall by the Buffalo Sabres.
The 2012 NHL Entry Draft class doesn't seem to be a particularly big one for Russia, especially when considering that the top players, Mikhail Grigorenko and Nail Yakupov, left the Mother Land to play in the Canadian junior system. In the last few years more and more players have decided to cross the pond earlier, and even if it didn't pay off in all cases, the CHL is now becoming a good alternative for Russian players who opt for an early transition to North American hockey.