Season 8 profile: Minsk Hussars

pro Minsk

Farm Club: Vitebsk Bears Vitebsk Bears

GM: Igor Kirunov (only GM in team’s history)

Coach: Dave Tippett (replaced Guy Boucher, who replaced Lindy Ruff, who replaced Claude Julien)

Last season: 1st overall, (In playoffs, defeated Dublin, lost to Moscow)

Ins and Outs

(Season 7 to Season 8)

Out: Colin Wilson (traded), Janne Niskala (free agent)

In: David Schlemko (free agent), Andrew MacDonald (free agent), Denis Malgin (draft); Nick Suzuki (draft), Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (draft)

In Place (Key players signed past Season 8) not counting players with player options

Aaron Ekblad, D; Maxim Chudinov, D; Michael Del Zotto, D; Patrick Kane, RW; Milan Lucic, LW




Three Questions

1.  Should Minsk fans expect more Cups? Nothing is sure in this world except death and taxes. We’re surprised you haven’t heard that by now. For Hussar fans, this will be an anxious season. They could argue they should have won their second Cup in Season 7, but there was David Backes and Moscow to suddenly wake them from that dream. Minsk should be considered a strong favorite to win the Cup this season because many of the other top teams lost lots of personnel to the economic crisis while the Hussars only lost wingers Colin Wilson and Olivier Roland and fifth defenseman Janne Niskala. The rest of the team is intact. General Manager Igor Kirunov will definitely have an eye on Season 9 while Coach Dave Tippett will be focused on Season 8 success. Kirunov sees a couple of issues with Seoasn 9: A) the cap squeeze will remain tight because Maxim Chudinov will be asking for more money; and B) key pieces Nicklas Backstrom and Carey Price will decide at the end of this season if they want to stick around Belarus for another turn in Season 9. Each will have a player option to decide upon. Just this season,  Jonathan Toews rejected a more lucrative player option with Bratislava to see how much more he can get on the open market. If Price and Backstrom do the same, then Season 8 might be the last good chance this powerhouse team has to win the Cup again. Kirunov will surely be talking with his two stars’ agents and might consider renegotiating their contracts before the trade deadline.

2. How will the Hussars be different from their President’s Trophy-winning team? First we’ll start with what’s the same: the amazing goalie, the spectacular top 4 defensemen, and the superlative top 6 forwards. So the main pieces that gave the rest of the league fits last season are back and still in their prime. The changes this year will only come at the bottom of the lineup, and that’s where opposing teams will try to breach the Hussars’ fortress-like lineup. Like some other teams wrestling with the salary cap, Minsk has to send a player to the farm club who would normally be starting. Olivier Roland played 82 games and was a plus 32 wing last season and it is very unlikely he will play at all this season. His $4.95 million salary will even prevent him from filling in for injured players (except Gustav Nyquist, who earns more) unless Kirunov can do some lineup juggling. At the moment, that means promotions for left wings Marius Holtet of Norway and Sven Baertschi of Switzerland. The right wing will also see promotions for Alexander Burmistrov – although he has seen third-line duty in the past – and rookie Nick Schmaltz. On defense, Mongolian Tamir Ganbold will get a shot at full-time duty after six seasons as an injury backup player. Many are anxious to see what Ganbold can do in 82 games. He handles the puck extremely well, plays a calm, calculating game and he has a hard low slapshot. Size and skating ability are the main concerns as far as Ganbold goes, and Coach Tippett and his staff will have to get him to watch the bad penalties.

3. Who will be the star of this team this year? The top four defensemen – Michael Del Zotto, Ryan McDonagh, Maxim Chudinov and 21-year-old Aaron Ekblad – just keep getting better and better and better. Thanks mainly to them and shot blocker extraordinaire Kris Russell, the Season 7 Hussars limited their opponents to an average of less than 25 shots on Carey Price per game. Only Bratislava allowed fewer shots. Minsk would not have gotten to the top of the league without their great defense corps. Or without goalie Carey Price, who steadily stops about 90 percent of the pucks that reach him. But look for Patrick Kane to really shine this year. Two seasons ago, Kane’s linemate Nicklas Backstrom led the EURO in scoring. Last season, the other guy on that line, Milan Lucic, flirted with first overall in scoring before dropping to third in the last couple of weeks. This is Kane’s turn to go after a big trophy. He’s 30 and coming off one of his better seasons, a year in which he raised his shots total from a previous personal best 288 to 308. He has put together two seasons of more than 30 goals and more than 60 assists. He’s sneaky and opponents will be focusing on Backstrom and Lucic, which should give a little more him space and time.


Minsk All1


Minsk season8.jpg

Season                 Place        PTS        PP %      PK %      SPG        SAPG     GPG     GAPG    PIM

Season 7               1               120         20.7         84.1        34.57      24.84    4.00    2.55         9.48

Season 6               1               144          20.1         84.2       35.04      25.32     3.96    2.13       9.96

Season 5                3               117         17.1          86.6       34.85     26.24     3.70     2.45       10.57

Season 4               7               106         19.0        83.4        33.55     28.05      3.24     2.67       12.18

Season 3              18               77          17.3        78.6        29.57    30.85       3.15      3.40       12.91

Season 2              19               74           15.1         81.9        26.40       31.21        2.71        3.41      10.29

Season 1              24               54           13.3         79.8        25.59      32.46        2.12        3.50       9.82

Top Draft picks

Season 1: Carey Price, G, current age 31. Games played: 491; Save Pct. 90.4

Season 2: Maxim Chudinov, D, age 24. GP 465, Pts 219, +99

Season 3: Valeri Nichushkin, RW, age 23. GP 341, Pts 111, +6

Season 4: Aaron Ekblad, D, age 21. GP 245; Pts 104; +90

Season 5: Kevin Clark, RW, age 23.  GP 9, Points 0, 0

Season 6: Kevin Hayes, RW, age 24. GP 117; Pts 35, -15

Season 7: German Rubtsov, C, age 19.

Season 8: Nick Suzuki, C, age 17.

Trade History

Season 1 (picks without years listed are from initial draft)

Traded Round 4 pick (used to draft Brent Burns) to St. Petersburg for Round 6 pick (used to draft Patrik Berglund) and 2013 Round 1 pick (Thomas Powell)

Traded Round 8 pick (traded later) (Andrej Meszaros) to Oslo for Round 17 pick (Zac Rinaldo) and 2013 Round 1 (Alex Galchenyuk)

Traded Round 12 pick (Dan Winnick) to Bern for Round 14 pick (Matt Cllen), Round 25 pick (later traded) (Dan Paille) and 2013 Round 3 pick (Nathan Beaulieu)

Traded Matt Cullen to Athens for Round 15 pick (Stefan Elliott)

Traded Matt Hunwick Round 25 pick (Dan Paille) and Round 25 pick (Alexei Emelin) to Edinburgh for Nick Bjugstad

Traded Vernon Fiddler and $1 million to Geneva for Alex Chiasson

Traded Round 21 pick (Raffi Torres) to Geneva for Brian Dumoulin

Traded Round 10 pick (Mikael Granlund) to Belfast for Round 11 pick (Romas Josi) and Round 15 pick (Andrej Sekera)

Season 2

Traded Andrej Sekera to Prague for Nicklas Grossman and 2015 Round 3 pick (Jon Merrill)

Traded Brayden Schenn and Kyle Clifford to Helsinki for Alexander Burmistrov

Traded Tobias Stephan to London for 2016 Round 3 pick

Traded 2016 Round 3 pick (from London) to London for Tobias Stephan

Traded Jonas Holos to Frankfurt for 2014 Round 2 pick (later traded) (Viktor Fasth)

Traded Patric Hornqvist and Mathis Olimb to Berlin for 2015 Round 1 that was later traded in Aaron Ekblad deal.

Season 3

Traded  2014 Rd 2 pick  (Hunter Shinkaruk) to Helsinki for Sven Baertschi

Traded Roman Josi and Alexander Galchenyuk to Prague for Zach Parise

Traded Andres De La Garma to Copenhagen for 2015 Round 2 pick (later traded) (Julius Honka)

Traded Zach Parise to Gothenburg for Milan Lucic, 2016 Round 1 pick (later traded to Zurich – Sandro Zurkirchen) and 2017 Round 1 pick (Kevin Hayes)

Traded 2015 Round 3 pick (Brandon Montour) to Helsinki for Nick Spaling

Season 4

Traded Nick Bjugstad, Magnus Paajarvi and 2015 Round 1 pick (Sami Vatanen) to Frankfurt for 2015 Round 1 pick (Aaron Ekblad)

Traded Valeri Nichushkin, Sergei Kostitsyn and Ilya Nikulin to Geneva for Michael Del Zotto

Traded 2015 Round 2 pick (Julius Honka)  to Stockholm for 2017 Round 3 pick (later traded to Munich and used to pick Calle Jarnkrok)

Traded Jon Merrill to Bern for 2017 Round 3 pick (later traded to Munich and used to pick Travis Dermott)

Traded Jakub Voracek, Nathan Beaulieu and 2016 Round 1 pick (Sandro Zurkirchen) to Zurich for Patrick Kane

Traded Patrik Berglund and Nick Leddy to Madrid for Jordan Staal

Traded Renat Mamashev to Dublin for 2017 Round 2 pick (Pavel Zacha)

Traded two 2017 Round 3 draft picks (Travis Dermott and Calle Jarnkrok) to Munich for Mark Giordano

Season 5

Season 6

Traded 2017 Round 2 pick (Mathew Barzal) and 2017 Round 3 pick (Evgeny Svechnikov) to Lisbon for 2017 Round 2 pick (Colin White)

After Season 6 started:

Traded Dmitrij Jaskin to Zurich for Janne Niskala

Traded Kevin Hayes, 2018 Round 2 pick (Brandon Davidson) and 2019 Round 2 pick (Jimmy Vesey) to Edinburgh for Olivier Roland and 2018 Round 3 pick (Yegor Korshkov)

Claimed Jimmy Hayes off waivers

Lost Mark Giordano and Matt Martin off waivers

Season 7

Season 8

Traded Colin Wilson to Athens for 2019 Round 2 pick (Denis Malgin) and 2020 Round 3 pick

After Season 8 started:

Signed Tyler Kennedy, Sergei Kostitsyn and Colin Greening  (free agents)

Claimed Michael Keranen (waivers)

Claimed Luke Adam (waivers)



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