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Author: Alessandro Seren RossoDate: 08/22/2009
Sergei Shirokov (Vancouver Canucks): a biography

2012 National Hockey League (NHL)

Sergei Shirokov skating for HC CSKA during the 2005-06 regular season

After all the buzz created by the last statements by Mike Gillis, who declared that they are very close to sign a deal with one of their three Russian prospects, a strange situation arisen as Sergei Shirokov (Vancouver Canucks) announced that he wanted to leave CSKA, setting up a legal battle, which is now history after the KHL disqualified him for one year, thus freeing him in his way towards the NHL.

But who are the Canucks signing?

Sergei Shirokov, a 23-year-old from Moscow, has spent his whole career in the Red Army system. Despite of his size, he always had the talent to score goals and to set up plays in the offensive zone, qualities that allowed him to be a perennial first or second liner with the national team of his group of age, playing usually with St. Louis prospect Nikolay Lemtyugov. In his late teen age he started playing for the CSKA junior farm team, getting good stats, but nowhere near as other well known Red Army players from the past like Pavel Bure or Sergei Samsonov, and made his debut with the main team in the 2004-05 season where he played eight matches mainly on the team’s fourth line with very limited ice time.

Despite his talent, his concerning size created some doubts among the NHL scouts and thus he was passed over in two drafts, being drafted only in the 2006, despite his big performance in the 2005 WJC where he was the third top scorer for Russia, with the first two being nothing less than Evgeni Malkin (Pittsburgh Penguins) and Alexander Ovechkin (Washington Capitals). “Why this player wasn't picked at the past two NHL Entry Drafts is a mystery” – we wrote while commenting on Shirokov’s 2006 NHL rank. After a very good 2005-06 campaign with CSKA Moscow, when the Army team was eliminated in the playoffs’ quarterfinals by Avangard from Omsk, and a very good WJC as well, finished with five points in six games, NHL teams finally understood the potential in this small sized winger as he was picked up by the Canucks in the fifth round, with the 163rd overall pick.

The Canucks must have been intrigued by the strong play of the CSKA’s third line, made up of three very young players in Shirokov, Denis Parshin (Colorado Avalanche) and Alexander Nikulin (Phoenix Coyotes). It doesn’t surprise that all three ended up drafted in the NHL, but out of the three, Nikulin is the only one who actively pursued an NA career as he played two years in the AHL just to return back home less than one month ago, signing back with CSKA.

But once Nikulin left for America, they had a vacant spot for the third line. The two young guns has been consequently centered by another very young player, ironically another Canucks prospect, the aforementioned Ilya Kablukov (Vancouver Canucks). If 06-07 was his breakout season, where he scored 34 points in the regular season, in 07-08 season he suffered no sophomore slump even if his production had a little step back as the same amount of points has been scored with six games more, but he resulted as one of the league’s top assist men and top young players, with his perennial line mate Denis Parshin (Colorado Avalanche). 08-09 was yet another good season for Sergei. In his last year of his CSKA contract he further raised his production to 41 points, thanks to 17 goals and 24 assists, both career high.

The dynamic duo Shirokov-Parshin, who plays on the same line for three years now, has been promoted to the second line, being centered by Vadim Epanchintsev or Ivan Khomutov (New Jersey Devils). But once again it wasn’t a lucky year for CSKA as they got eliminated in the playoffs by Dynamo Moscow. Let’s remember that CSKA’s last win in Russians top division dates back to 1989.

The rest is recent story. After the last season Vyacheslav Bykov and Igor Zakharkin left the team, signing a lucrative deal with Salavat Yulaev Ufa and probably causing a mass move from CSKA to their new franchise. Sergei Shirokov (Vancouver Canucks) with his usual ice partner, Denis Parshin (Colorado Avalanche), are trying hard leaving the team, not willing to work under the new head coach, Sergei Nemchinov, and not satisfied about the salary the Red Army pays them. They were declared property of CSKA Moscow as, in fact, they were Restricted Free Agents, thus not free to sign for any other KHL team. But, as we are seeing now, players are free to sign in any other league.

While Denis Parshin (Colorado Avalanche) decided to sign back with CSKA, it’s now time for Shirokov to really test himself, trying his skills in the world’s top league. It won’t be an easy task for a player of his size, but he has the tools to make it through in the National Hockey League.

Related Player Profiles: . I.Kablukov I.Khomutov E.Malkin S.Nemchinov A.Nikulin A.Ovechkin D.Parshin S.Samsonov S.Shirokov
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