(Editor’s Note: This article was written Nov. 4th, so all information pertaining to dates and times are in accordance to the fact that this was written on Nov. 4th.)
Brace yourselves, because I’m about to say something that you probably aren’t ready to hear this early into the season, and this team’s tenure in the league: The Vegas Golden Knights are doing really well. Like, really well. They are 8-4-0 and 2nd in the Pacific division, outperforming many people’s expectations to this point.
Before the season, if I told you that most of Vegas’ success stems from the play of former KHL standout Vadim Shipachyov, would that be too farfetched to believe? Of course not. The 30 year old is coming off of a 76 point year in the KHL, and was signed to a two year, nine million dollar deal with the NHL startup. He was destined to be a cornerstone of the Vegas franchise, and a solid veteran presence for the young kids picked up through the entry and expansion drafts.
Fastforward to November 4th, ,2017, and Vadim Shipachyov is sitting in Russia, waiting and hoping that Vegas terminates his contract. Ship, as they call him, requested a trade and his agent Petr Svoboda was granted permission to seek a trade. No trade came to fruition, Shipachyov was sent down to the AHL, and he never showed for the game. With one goal in three games, Ship has a right to be frustrated, but missing a game, no matter what level, isn’t the greatest way to express your frustration.
Things get a little hairy from here, however, because even with the intention of returning to the KHL, Shipachyov runs into a few snags. For starters, he is still under contract through this year and next with Vegas, so he is contractually obligated to be a part of the team for these two years. Second, if he wanted out of his contract, he would either have to “retire,” or have Vegas terminate his contract. That’s where it gets real messy. If Vegas wants to terminate his contract, they have to initially place him on unconditional waivers for 24 hours. In those 24 hours, he is subject to any team in the NHL claiming him.
Therein lies the point of this article. Is he worth acquiring if you are Ron Hextall? The proposition of acquiring such a talent is very tempting. Look at the state of the third line right now, considering you have Jori Lehtera, Matt Read, and Dale Weise essentially floundering in their roles on that line. So is it worth taking on an extra four and a half million dollars, maybe even dumping a salary in a deal to fit him in, for a talent such as Vadim Shipachyov?
Plain and simple, the answer is no. It is a very tempting situation, but at this point in time, the Flyers are playing well, they have great team chemistry, and why throw a wrench into that? Shipachyov is no doubt, a great player and has great potential to be a solid contributor to any team in the league. The Flyers just don’t have the kind of money, or roster spot, to try and tempt Shipachyov to come play for them.
The lines are virtually set in Philadelphia. You have G, Voracek and Coots on top. Second line is Patrick, Simmonds and Konecny. Third line has Weal, Filppula and Weise, while the fourth line has Raffl, Laughton, and Leier. Not to mention, you have Jori Lehtera and Matt Read who are healthy scratches. As Ron Hextall, you just don’t have the room to accommodate him on the roster at this time, especially considering the talent you have in the AHL that could end up being called upon if injuries riddle the forwards like they have the blue line.
If the Flyers were to pursue him, his spot would be in the AHL at this point. Sure, maybe they put him in a similar position as Lehtera, but is that what Ship wants? Does he want to be a healthy scratch when everyone else is healthy, or does he want to be a starter for a KHL team? My guess is that Vadim goes back home where he knows he can thrive.
Sure, the NHL boasts the best competition in the world as far as hockey is concerned. However, playing time is always a big deal when it comes to players making the jump from the KHL to the NHL, and look at players like Evgeni Medvedev. He played for the Flyers, was a healthy scratch a majority of the time, and went back to the KHL, to a league where he knew he would play.
In his last three years in the KHL, Shipachyov scored, respectively, 54, 60, and 76 points. He averaged over a point per game in those last three seasons. Here in the NHL, he averaged less than half a point per game. You do the math.
The writing is on the wall with Vadim Shipachyov. Man comes to NHL from KHL with the promise of a more fruitful hockey career. Man ends up with the wrong team for that opportunity. Man becomes disgruntled and wants to go back to the KHL. Man goes back to KHL, ends up forcing NHL teams’ hand and has them terminate contract. That’s what is going to happen here, and if the Flyers made a move and picked him up, it would only prolong the situation.
It’s pointless for any team, let alone the Flyers, to pursue Shipachyov at this point. That “Ship” has sailed, literally, and it’s landed back at the motherland, where Vadim will pick back up his career in the KHL, and assuredly will have a better career there than he could have imagined here in North America.
Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports