The Montreal Canadiens have signed left winger Arsen Khisamutdinov to a two-year deal through 2022. Khisamutdinov had a cumulative 8 points in 40 games with the Nizhnehamsk Neftekhimik in two seasons. He was drafted in the 6th round by the Canadiens in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.
At 6’3 and 22 years of age, the rookie of the year finalist for Neftekhimik can be seen as more of a project pick in comparison to other high-end prospects in the organization. However, Trevor Timmins has been known to find diamonds in the rough in the 5th to 7th rounds of the draft such as Brendan Gallagher, Cayden Primeau and Jake Evans. The Montreal Canadiens may be hoping this another one of those scenarios.
While his offense in the KHL may not look like much, it was Khisamutdinov’s time with the Reaktor Nizhnekamsk of the MHL that have made him an attractive pick for the Montreal Canadiens. In his draft year, Khisamutdinov recorded 55 points in 41 games and 13 points in 14 games the following year in the VHL.
When looking at his time in the minors, one can see Khisamutdinov has been shown to possess a strong offensive game. The lack of production in the KHL can be credited to minimal ice time, being scratched and spending time in the minors. However, it is important to note points are not always representative of a player’s capabilities when transitioning into the North American style of hockey, given the bigger ice in the KHL.
Where Will Arsen Khisamutdinov Play Next Season?
Given his age, Arsen Khisamutdinov is expected to join the Laval Rocket, where he will have a chance to bring over the offensive production he has displayed in both the MHL and VHL. Working with Joel Bouchard may allow him to find more consistency along whilst developing a stronger defensive side to his game.
If he can put all the pieces together and combine his size, speed and skill, Khisamutdinov can be an important contributing factor for the Rocket in the next two seasons.
It may be too early to start making NHL predictions just yet. Being an overage player in the draft can be a sign of a project pick that is low cost but can reap high rewards if the player commits and is developed properly in order to best hone his abilities. If successful, Khisamutdinov may eventually earn himself a spot on the Canadiens fourth line where he can occasionally provide some offensive depth with a hopefully improved defensive play.