The Kings have signed a one-year contract with Russian winger Vladimir Tkachyov worth $ 832,500, general manager Rob Blake said in a press release on Saturday.
Tkachyov, 25, played with four different clubs in the Russian Continental Hockey League.
Most recently, he skated for the St. Petersburg SKA, where he recorded 11 goals and 27 assists in 45 games last season. The KHL has already completed a full campaign, including the playoffs, in which he collected eight points in 11 games. In total, he has 185 career points in 254 KHL games. He also competed for the Russian National Junior Team at the Under-18 and Under-20 levels.
The KHL has spread beyond borders in Europe and is widely regarded as the second best hockey league in the world. The Kings have added KHL players including Ilya Kovalchuk and Nikolai Prokhorkin in recent years with mixed results. However, KHL products such as Artermi Panarin, an undrafted free agent like Tkachyov, and former fifth-round pick Kirill Kaprizov have come into the NHL to instantly turn into franchise cornerstones.
Like Kovalchuk and Washington Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin, Tkachyov is a right-handed winger who typically plays on the left side. But unlike those two, he’s known more for his patience with the puck and his game than for his scoring prowess. He might not skate as effectively as Kaprizov, but Tkachyov is an equally complete skater with dangling hands and the ability to turn his mobility into production.
Tkachyov is no stranger to the size and style of play of the North American rink. He scored 79 points in 66 games in two seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League before returning to Russia to compete professionally. He came close to signing a three-year entry-level contract with the Edmonton Oilers in 2014, only to have it canceled by the NHL due to a technical glitch.
During the brief period he was to enter the Edmonton system, he was nicknamed “Vladdy Hockey,” a play on the “Johnny Hockey” nickname given to Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau.
In his draft year, 2014, he was already ranked 14th among European skaters by central recruiting, but was entirely ignored.
At 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds, Tkachyov has been plagued by questions about his height as well as his defensive abilities. But his lightness and his offensive spirit did not prevent him from excelling in the KHL, where the ice surfaces vary between three sizes and where the game has become more and more structured over time.