Dmitry Yerykalov

How are Khovanov and Denisenko doing?

This year we are talking more and more about Andrey Svechnikov. The main Russian talent, born in the 00s, is gradually reaching its design capacity. He’s on a point-per-game schedule for the first time in his career, and right now, Svechnikov Jr. is the top Russian scorer in the NHL with 13 goals. Getting ahead of Ovechkin himself, even temporarily, is an achievement no matter how you slice it.

Svechnikov is undoubtedly the main talent of his generation. He was considered as such both at the age of 14 and at 18. But there were guys next to him all the time, whose career was also supposed to go like clockwork. At the junior level, Svechnikov played for the national team with Alexander Khovanov and Grigory Denisenko. Even at the global level, they seemed like a dream trio. But where are Svechnikov’s squires now? In NHL games, you won’t see either.

Khovanov, who was a top playmaker even at the MFM level, this season scored only 5 (2+3) points in 13 matches for Neftyanik. He got there from Bars, where he could not become a leader. At the same time, ex-teammate Svechnikov scored two points in the last two matches, and before that there was just a terrifying series: 5 matches without points and only 20 of 71 face-offs won. For the central striker, a real nightmare.

For a long time they talked about Khovanov being overweight, but now his official figures are 180/87, which is slightly less than before. True, in this case, the percentage of fat is important. But it is unlikely that the reason for an unsuccessfully emerging career is only in physical form. The striker, who played on a line with the Carolina star back at the Ak Bars school, seemed to have lost self-confidence. And there are many questions about his character now. Laziness ruined more than one talent.

But what about Denisenko? Grigory almost simultaneously with Khovanov gave a couple of good matches, but not in the VHL, but in AHL. Over the past two games, the Yaroslavl talent scored 3 (1 + 2) points, and in the match with the Pittsburgh farm club he became the author of the winning bullet and was recognized as the first star of the match. Basically, not bad. That’s just these 3 points – this is how much, how much for the previous 14 meetings for the Florida farm club. Alas, there is no question of any call to the main team of the AHL.

Recently, Denisenko has been playing only in the third line of Charlotte. For a player who was selected in the first round of the NHL Draft and played in the KHL playoffs at the age of 17, this is, if not the bottom, then very close. Fans are already joking over him that Denisenko scored as many goals in a season as Wallstedt. We are talking about a goaltender from the Minnesota system, who this season in the AHL scored a goal into an empty net.

Perhaps all this is the consequences of a fracture of the patella, which happened to the Russian almost a year ago. But be that as it may, Denisenko has no prospects in the Florida system and in the NHL in general at the moment. This season is the last in the rookie’s three-year contract. If our striker does not sharply improve, he is unlikely to receive a new agreement from the Panthers. Are they waiting for him in Yaroslavl, where there is no place even for the best newcomer of this season, Yaroslav Likhachev, who is loaned to Amur? Also a question. It seems that very soon a great talent will be at a serious career fork.