International Ice Hockey Federation

Russia’s best No. 87

Russia’s best No. 87

Is Shipachyov ready to move to the NHL?

Published 28.05.2016 10:27 GMT+3 | Author Pavel Lysenkov
Russia’s best No. 87
Russia's Vadim Shipachyov celebrates a goal during the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. Photo: Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images
He became the World Championship’s top scorer but said little during the event. Who is this mystery man, Vadim Shipachyov, Russia’s centre?

March 2016. Semi-final of SKA-CSKA, one of the fiercest rivalries of the KHL.

The Canadian with a Belarussian passport, Geoff Platt, passes by Vadim Shipachyov as the latter is lying on ice and hits him on the head with his knee.

Accident or not, Platt got suspended for four games. Afterwards a livid SKA management says: “Do you have any idea what kind of player we could have lost before the World Championship?”

May. Two months later, the Russian national team wins bronze on home ice, with Vadim Shipachyov as the scoring leader of the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship while playing on one of the most potent lines in recent Worlds history.

The numbers speak for themselves:

Vadim Shipachyov – 18 (6+12) points in 10 games.
Artemi Panarin – 15 (6+9).
Yevgeni Dadonov – 13 (6+7).

When was the last time that Russian forwards from the same line became the top-three scorers in a World Championship? We can remember the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, when the first three places were taken by Viktor Tikhonov (8+8=16), Danis Zaripov (3+10=13) and Sergei Plotnikov (6+6=12). But they were all from different lines.

But for a trio playing together, you have to go back to the 1987 Worlds in Vienna.

Once again the numbers:

Vladimir Krutov - 15 (11+4) points.
Sergei Makarov - 14 (4+10).
Igor Larionov – 12 (4+8).

Shipachyov is in an elite company. In fact, if you list all Russian and USSR team stats at the Worlds, Shipachyov’s 18 points approach the achievements of Sergei Makarov in 1983 and 1986. Of course, they are all far away from the record of Vladimir Petrov (34 points in the 1973 World Championship, but nevertheless impressive.

Vyacheslav Bykov told how he created Shipachyov’s line in the 2014/15 season. The great player and coach was leading SKA St. Petersburg for only that season and for the first time he led St. Petersburg to the Gagarin Cup.

“Yevgeni Dadonov was then playing for Donbass Donetsk but his club ceased to exist. Once we invited Yevgeni to the national team. I already considered then that he was a promising forward with great skill, fast and hungry for victories. We immediately began to negotiate with him.

“I remember Artemi Panarin from Vityaz where he made his first steps. I saw him grow. I knew Vadim Shipachyov from playing at Severstal. He was already very promising back then.

Earlier, Artemi and Vadim used to play in the line with Yevgeni Ketov. A great player. But that trio lacked a little bit of dynamics, spice and diversity. When we placed Dadonov there, he fitted it just great.”

That is how the line appeared.

There are persistent rumours that Vadim Shipachyov (29 years) and Yevgeni Dadonov (27 years) could be bought out of their last contract year from SKA. The players might then leave for the NHL.

A journalist asked Artemi Panarin in the mixed zone: “Why would (his current NHL team Chicago Blackhawks) want to extend their contract with Andrew Ladd? It is better to sign Shipachyov and Dadonov for the same amount of money.”

“That is a provocative question!” Panarin replied.

After all, Artemi is already playing in the best line in NHL with Patrick Kane and Artyom Anisimov. But one has to wonder how this trio, who have had such success together in the past, would fit into the NHL scheme.

The relationship between the members of the trio is very interesting.

Panarin tells that during the first training sessions of the national Russian team, he had an argument with Shipachyov: “He called me a damn player of the NHL. That I forgot how we played in the SKA after just one year.”

And by the end of the tournament, Artemi said: “About our performance? I just touched the stomach of Vadim Shipachyov before the match with the Americans for good luck. Why didn't I touch it before the match with Finland? How was I to know that his stomach was that lucky. I thought we will now win even more points.”

Shipachyov refused to talk to journalists during the tournament and during most time of the KHL season. Only after the bronze medal win was the mystery man ready for one of his rare statements.

“We defeated the U.S. team and won a medal but I’m upset about losing the semi-final to Finland,” Shipachyov said. “Why I became best scorer of the tournament? I would call myself lucky only if we had won in the final. Our goals did not help make Russia the world champion. Actually we lost the semi-finals due to the fact that we could not capitalize on our power plays but the Finns did it twice. It is very simple in hockey.”

If Shipachyov buys out his contract it will be interesting to see for which NHL team he will be playing.

Artemi Panarin moved to the Chicago Blackhawks and became a star. He can could win the Calder Trophy soon.

On the other hand, the third-best scorer of the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, Sergei Plotnikov, went to Pittsburgh terminating the last year of his contract with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl for half a million dollars – and has not been able to score for a whole year now.

A month ago there were rumors about the Montreal Canadiens trying to sign Shipachyov. Now there should be many more clubs trying to sign him. Everyone needs a great centre who despite of his size (183 cm, 85 kg) is strong with the puck.

But there is still a chance that Shipachyov will play the 2016/17 season with SKA and wait for another year when he’s a free agent.


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