SKA celebrated on Tuesday, perhaps, the main transfer of this offseason. The army team was able to negotiate with Sergei Tolchinsky, who was claimed by almost all the giants in the league. The 2021 Gagarin Cup MVP will spend the next five seasons in St. Petersburg. We tell you why it was important for SKA to get Tolchinsky.
SKA fans are already considering Tolchinsky as a replacement for Dmitry Yashkin. From a gameplay point of view, this is of course not true: a miniature techie is no alternative to a typical sniper. But from a budget and salary cap standpoint, it’s pretty true.
Here it is worth taking a closer look at the statistics of the two attackers in the playoffs. If in the regular season Yashkin was consistently the king, then in the decisive matches something always happened to him. Even if he does not take into account the last series with CSKA with zero points, the picture is bleak. In the spring of 2023, Yashkin was effective only in the first round, when he scored four goals against Dynamo Minsk. The Torpedo team has already found a way to deal with him: only 2 (1 + 1) points in four games.
Let’s go even deeper: at the Gagarin Cup – 2021, Yashkin, who played for Dynamo Moscow, scored good statistics in the series with Severstal – 5 (3 + 2) points in five matches – but already in the second round he could not resist. S.K.A.
In the spring of 2020, Dmitry had a good series with Spartak – 6 (3 + 3) points in six matches, but then the season was stopped.
As a result, we get a stable game in the first round and a stable drop in performance at the most difficult stages. It is curious that even at the youth level, Yashkin did not shine in the playoffs: in the 2012/2013 season he scored only 3 (1 + 2) points in five games for Moncton in the Quebec Major Junior League. Needless to talk about the NHL: 4 (2 + 2) points in 14 Stanley Cup games in three seasons.
A. Yudin: Tolchinsky knows how to gnaw victories – this was not enough for the SKA players in the playoffs
Tolchinsky looks much more convincing in the knockout matches. Sergey had good statistics in the Ontario Junior League: 24 (8+16) points in 29 games in three seasons. In the NHL he did not fight for the Stanley Cup, but in the KHL he showed his best. In the first all-around tiebreaker, Tolchinsky scored 20 (6+14) points in 24 games, helped Avangard win the Stanley Cup, and became the MVP.
In the next two seasons, Sergei played very good series with Ak Bars and Metallurg in the spring of 2022, as well as with Sibir (five points from five games in March 2023). Yes, then there were difficulties in the confrontation with the same “Magnitogorsk” and “Ak Bars”, but there the whole “Vanguard” did not look impressive. The output is 14 (7 + 7) points in 27 games for the last two playoffs, a decent result.
The only MVP available
If you look at the list of hockey players who have been recognized as the most valuable players in the playoffs over the past 10 years, we will find that now only two play in the KHL. Alexander Eremenko, Sergey Mozyakin, Vasily Koshechkin, Ilya Kovalchuk and Alexander Popov have already retired, Justin Azevedo plays in Switzerland and Ilya Sorokin is taking the NHL by storm. There’s only Mikhail Grigorenko, who gave SKA a lot of headaches in the April West final, and Sergey Tolchinsky.
Grigorenko has another year of contract with CSKA, but Tolchinsky after April 30 was completely free. SKA reacted faster and signed the most valuable asset.
Sergey Tolchinsky and Alexander Radulov
Photo: Yuri Kuzmin, photo.khl.ru
experience and youth
According to the same MVP list, Tolchinsky, 28, is the second youngest in this company after Sorokin. Even Grigorenko is a year older, let alone the rest of the veterans.
In this sense, signing a five-year contract seems like a smart investment in the future. In April 2028, Sergei will be only 33 years old; at that age, Ilya Kovalchuk went from the first Gagarin Cup, won with the St. Petersburg army team, to the second Gagarin Cup in SKA.
At the same time, Tolchinsky has already managed to try almost all the options available to the Russian hockey player: he played in the MHL, cooked in the youth leagues of North America and the AHL, scored in the NHL, became a star of the KHL, won two Gagarin Cups, played for the Russian team at the world championship.
Tolchinsky is not a pig in a poke at all, but a proven player who will definitely give the result in the right place and at the right time. And he will for a long time. He can’t fear a repeat of the situation with Nikita Gusev, whose batteries have clearly started to run low in recent seasons. Tolchinsky is not only younger, but, let’s say, he is much less exposed to factors close to hockey.
Sergei Tolchinsky and Nikita Nesterov
Photo: Yuri Kuzmin, photo.khl.ru
Motivation against CSKA
For SKA, which year after year rests against their Moscow teammates in the Western finals, it is also extremely important that CSKA graduate Tolchinsky always plays against his native team with special motivation. In the final of the Gagarin Cup – 2021, it was Sergei who scored the winning goal in the decisive match of the series with the capital’s army team. He does not forgive CSKA and in the regular season – 7 (3 + 4) points in six games in the last three seasons. After moving to SKA, Tolchinsky will meet up with former teammates much more frequently. He will have a chance to make the statistics even more convincing.
Esmantovich: Tolchinsky chose his fate, let him follow it as he sees fit
SKA managed to get a creative striker who will help solve the main problem of St. Petersburg in recent seasons – he will be effective precisely at the decisive stages of the playoffs against very strong rivals of the caliber of CSKA, Ak Bars, Magnitogorsk and others. And this is really a serious offer for the Gagarin Cup next season.