GM: Ronnie Walker (3rd GM in team’s history)
Coach: Joel Quenneville (formerly Glen Gulutzan)
Last season: 6th overall (defeated St. Petersburg in Round 1, lost to Minsk in Round 2)
Ins and Outs
(Season 5 to Season 6)
Out: Andrew Ladd (trade), Jaroslav Halak (trade), Brandon Sutter (trade), Jason Garrison (free agent), Sam Godfrey (waivers)
In: David Backes (trade), Kyle Palmeiri (trade), Andrei Markov (free agent), Frans Nielsen (free agent), Viktor Fasth (free agent), Brock Boeser (draft), Christian Fischer (draft), Melker Karlsson (draft)
(Key players signed past Season 6)
David Backes, C; Anze Kopitar, C; Alexander Salak, G; Ryan Suter, D; Dustin Brown, RW
1. What’s the biggest change this season? Moscow has a new general manager and owner in Ronnie Walker, whose first action was to reinstate the team nickname and logo to the ones it had during its Cup-winning season. Those are major changes. Another major change wears a mask and stands in front of the Moscow net. Walker has a lot of faith in 25-year-old Czech Alexander Salak, who has always been an excellent backup for Moscow. Salak has never played more than 17 games in one season and Season 6 is his big chance, thanks to a trade that sent Jaroslav Halak to Greece. The young goalie has a 92.1 save percentage over the last two seasons, but it remains to be seen how his mind and body will handle the 60 or so games he will be expected to start this season.
2. How does the big trade with Athens help Moscow? Spartak and the Greeks exchanged a lot of assets in a major off-season trade. In addition to clearing out the goalie position for Salak, the trade continued a massive shift in team culture. A new general manager with new philosophies sent his captain packing to develop a new dressing room mindset as well. That’s more change than the Kremlin neighborhood has seen in a long time. Andrew Ladd left for Athens and David Backes came to Russia. The big center assumes the captaincy with another American, Dustin Brown, and Anze Kopitar of Slovenia as his assistants. Backes also gives Moscow a serious 1-2 punch at center. Kopitar starts the season between Blake Wheeler and Max Pacioretty, while Backes works with Brown and Kris Versteeg. Exhale when you can against Spartak, because the third line of Danes Franz Nielsen and Jannik Hansen with newcomer Kyle Palmieri is no cake walk. Palmieri was another piece in the trade and he should improve Moscow’s powerplay percentage this season. Another asset Moscow picked up is Athens’ first pick in the next draft. Walker inherited very few good young players, so that pick, whoever he is, will have a prominent role to play in the franchise.
3. Is the loss of Jason Garrison significant? Yes it is. The 32-year-old Garrison wanted to give free agency a shot and he has landed in Geneva. In a Moscow uniform, Garrison never sat out of a game, saw a lot of ice time, and produced points … even though last year was one of his worst offensive years with 9 goals and 38 points. Replacing Garrison and his lifetime plus 94 rating this season is the more experienced Andrei Markov, the Russian who helped the team win the Cup in Season 3. Markov, who isn’t nearly the defensive player Garrison is, played in Oslo last season but returned “home” through free agency this season. Coach Joel Quenneville also made a change in the lineup at the sixth defenseman position. Promising Finn Jyri Martinnen replaces Adam McQuaid there. But no coach in his right mind would mess with Spartak’s enviable top defense pairing of Ryan Suter and Duncan Keith. Last season, Suter scored 19 times and piled up 45 assists, giving him career highs in both categories. He was a plus 46 with 89 shot blocks. Keith missed 22 games due to injury and that resulted in him posting his career-worst offensive numbers. But he was plus 23 with one blocked shot per game and more than 2 hits per game. If Keith stays healthy this season, Moscow could be flirting with a number one seed by the end of the regular season.
Season Place PTS PP % PK % SPG SAPG GPG GAPG PIM
Season 5 6 107 20.9 86.9 32.50 27.45 3.67 2.76 9.67
Season 4 1 113 18.6 86.4 35.01 27.01 3.44 2.34 8.62
Season 3 4 (cup) 106 20.9 80.4 32.61 29.48 3.56 3.15 9.45
Season 2 5 101 18.4 83.4 32.62 28.21 3.38 2.8 11.21
Season 1 18 77 15.9 81.1 31.00 29.88 3.10 3.20 8.48
Top Draft picks
Season 1: Anze Kopitar, C, current age 29. Games played 446; Points 353,+23
Season 2: Alexander Salak, G, age 25. GP 50, Save Pct. 91.4
Season 3: Darnell Nurse, D, age 21.
Season 4: Nikolaj Ehlers, LW, age 20.
Season 5: Sam Godfrey, D, age 25. GP 32; Pts 10; Plus/Minus 0
Season 6: Brock Boeser, RW, age 18.
Season 1 (picks without years listed are from initial draft)
Traded Round Phil Kessel and Bobby Ryan to Dublin for Alxeander Ovechkin and 2014 Round 1 pick (used to draft Darnell Nurse)
Traded Alexander Ovechkin and Dave Bolland to Copenhagen for Andrew Ladd, Brandon Sutter and Kevin Dallman
*Three trades missing from this period. Tomas Kaberle seems to have been traded in one of them.
Traded James Van Riemsdyk and Marcus Johansson to Stockholm for Dustin Brown
Traded 2015 Round 1 pick to Berlin for Kris Versteeg
Traded Darnell Nurse, 2016 Round 1 pick (traded later to Copenhagen and then Bratislava – Morten Madsen) and 2017 Round 1 pick to Frankfurt for Max Pacioretty
Traded Nicolas Ehlers to Helsinki for 2016 Round 1 pick (later traded to Gothenberg)
Traded Kevin Dallman and 2016 Round 1 pick (formerly Helsinki’s – Olli Palola) to Gothenberg for Ryan Suter and Blake Wheeler
Traded Aleksey Morozov to Gothenburg for 2018 Round 3 pick
After Season 5 started
Signed Rich Peverley (free agent)
Traded Alexei Kalyuzhny to Lisbon for a 2017 Round 3 pick (Melker Karlsson)
Traded Andrew Ladd, Jaroslav Halak, Brandon Sutter and a 2018 Round 2 pick to Athens for David Backes, Kyle Palmeiri and a 2018 Round 1 pick
After Season 6 started:
Traded Anze Kopitar to Athens for Ryan O’Reilly
Traded Brock Boeser to Helsinki for Mitch Marner
Traded Blake Wheeler, Marc-Andre Bourdon and 2018 Round 3 pick to Madrid for Nick Leddy and Chris Stewart
Signed Mark Fayne and Brian Campbell (free agents)
Bought out Mike Brown