According to the team’s web site, New York Rangers 2009 7th round pick Mikhail Pashnin has signed a two year extension with CSKA Moscow. No word yet on whether the deal includes an NHL out clause, or whether it will allow the 22-year old defenseman to attend the Rangers training camp this fall with the option of returning to Russia if he fails to make the NHL roster.
Maybe having one of the greatest defenseman in your country’s history tell the press you’re making a mistake is enough to give one pause. Or maybe the New York Rangers aren’t offering the kind of contract Mikhail Pashnin and his agent were hoping for. Either way, it appears Pashnin’s signing with the club that made him the 200th overall in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft may not be as imminent as it once seemed.
Ekaterina Mukhlinina of Infox.ru spoke to Pashnin’s agent Alexei Dementiev, who made it clear the decision on where Pashnin will play next season has not yet been made. “At the current moment, Pashnin has not signed any contract, either with CSKA Moscow or the Rangers. All roads are open for Mikhail,” he stressed. “Anything’s possible.”
“I think everything will be determined within a week to ten days,” Dementiev added.
Responding to CSKA President and Russian hockey legend Viacheslav Fetisov’s criticism earlier this week of Pashnin’s decision to continue his career in North America, Dementiev clarified their position. “Neither I or Mikhail himself claim that he won’t develop in Russia. At present we’re evaluating all prospects and opportunities for his next actions.” In an effort to smooth over any potential or perceived rift between his client and the team that continues to hold his KHL rights, he added “Pashnin has great respect for CSKA. He has only positive feelings towards the brand, the team.”
This could be nothing more than Dementiev trying to make sure his client’s relationship with CSKA hasn’t been damaged, and that the young defenseman has a job to return to if things don’t go well for him in the Rangers organization. Or, it could be a misguided attempt by the agent to put pressure on the Rangers to sweeten the terms of their offer. Or maybe the kid is just having second thoughts. Either way, it looks like Pashnin’s arrival in North America this fall isn’t such a slam dunk after all.
Viacheslav Fetisov may have been a trailblazer in his own time, helping pave the way for Russians to leave their homeland for the NHL, but he’s not a fan of New York Rangers 2009 draft pick Mikhail Pashnin’s decision to leave Russia to join the Rangers organization this fall. The former NHL defenseman and two-time Stanley Cup champion, who now serves as President of KHL club CSKA Moscow, made his feelings know in an interview on the league’s web site on Tuesday:
Sometimes hockey players listen to the entirely wrong people. Pashnin had a very good season, but nobody would argue that he doesn’t still have far to grow. I’m sure that one or two more years in Russia would bring him much greater benefit. The chances of him making the Rangers main roster are extremely small. And I don’t think that a season in the AHL will bring him more benefit than a season in the KHL. We tried to explain to Mikhail that he was making a mistake, but we couldn’t change his mind.
Pashnin has split the past two years between CSKA and their junior team, after becoming the first overall pick in the KHL’s first ever entry draft. While the honor doesn’t quite equate to being the top pick in the NHL draft — only those who didn’t grow up within a KHL team’s feeder system are eligible for the draft — CSKA gave up four draft picks in order to land the young defenseman, who was a favorite of CSKA General Manager and former Ranger Sergei Nemchinov.
It’s easy to dismiss Fetisov’s comments as sour grapes. But in reality, he has a point. Pashnin is a long way from challenging for an NHL job — if he ever does. He struggled to stick with a middling KHL club last season, though he did show progress over his rookie campaign. And he gained invaluable experience when CSKA’s season ended early and he was sent to their junior club, where he played a leading role en route to the MHL championship.
While there’s value in coming to North America to adjust to the smaller ice surface and different style of play, he’ll be lucky to crack the top four on the Connecticut defense corps this season. With CSKA, he would have been looked upon to play a significant role, and would have gained an extra year’s experience, maturity and strength.
The risk in bringing over a player as raw as Pashnin is that he’ll get discouraged after a year or two in the AHL and head home before he reaches his full potential.
Only time will tell if the Rangers risk will return a reward.