Taken by the Los Angeles Kings in the second round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Chelyabinsk, Russia native Vyacheslav Voynov is in his second year in North America, playing for the Manchester Monarchs of the AHL.
An experienced player for his 19 years, Voynov played two full Russian Super League seasons and took part in three World Junior Champioinships. So far this season with Manchester, he has four goals and seven points in 16 games, and is the top-scoring defenseman on the team as well as the youngest. He has not yet gotten an NHL call-up and this is something that the young blueliner isn’t enjoying much, since he left Russia with only one aim –- to play in the NHL.
The 5’11, 202-pound Voynov suffered from a knee injury late last season, which kept him to 61 games, but is healthy now. Hockey’s Future spoke to Voynov in his native Russian.
Hockey’s Future: This is your second year in the AHL after you left home with big expectations. Are you disappointed not to play in the NHL?
Vyacheslav Voynov: Yes, I’m very disappointed that I am not playing in the NHL, but I’m working towards achieving my goal.
HF: Did the Kings staff tell you the reasons of your reassignment back to the Manchester Monarchs of the AHL?
VV: The Kings management told me that I am not ready yet to play in the National Hockey League. They also told me that some necessary work has to be done, and that I have to work on my English too.
HF: How many years of AHL will you play before considering other variants?
VV: My goal is to play in the NHL, and I’ll do everything it takes to play there.
HF: How much do you miss your hometown Chelyabinsk?
VV: It was way more difficult last year… this year, well, not too much.
HF: Now you’ve got to play with your friend Andrei Loktionov. Is it pleasant for you to have a teammate with whom you can speak in your mother tongue?
VV: Yes, I am very happy that I have a teammate and a good friend like Andrei Loktionov playing on my same team.
HF: A valuable achievement of your career has been surely the participation in the Kings training camp. How did you like it skating there?
VV: Kings training camp is always a great experience, it’s a very good chance to play side by side with great players.
HF: What did the training camp with the main team teach you?
VV: There I particularly worked on how to be stronger, how to become more of a team player.
HF: What kind of training did you do in the summer in order to get in shape for the 2009-10 season?
VV: Unfortunately this summer I had to go through rehabilitation process (for the knee) and undergo a special training program.
HF: How does your knee feel now?
VV: All is fine now.
HF: After two years, are you happy to have moved overseas to play hockey in North America?
VV: I’m very happy that I’m in North America learning new techniques and styles of play, but on the other hand I’m not too happy as I am not playing in the NHL.
HF: You’ve played almost 100 AHL games. Did anything in the pro NA game surprise you? The higher pace maybe?
VV: No, not at all, I played pro hockey back in Russia since I was 16, and also with Traktor (RSL mother club) there was the speed, the pace… I just feel, that here you have to think and act faster than in Europe.
HF: How is your English now? Getting better?
VV: It’s still in progress, but yes, it’s getting better.