Blackhawks Expected To Pursue Top KHL Free Agent Andrei Kuzmenko

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Blackhawks Expected To Pursue Top KHL Free Agent Andrei Kuzmenko

Chicago Blackhawks

The Chicago Blackhawks are not contending for a Stanley Cup anytime soon (and don’t have a first round pick in 2022), so you’d be wise to expect some significant roster turnover in the next few weeks. With the NHL Trade Deadline quickly approaching (March 21), it’s all about the future now.

But it’s not all about sell-side trades.

The Blackhawks might also be active in the free agent market(s) this summer, both domestically and abroad. In fact, according to The Athletic’s Scott Powers, Chicago could be one of many teams looking into upcoming Russian free agent Andrei Kuzmenko.

The Blackhawks are expected to be among the teams interested in signing KHL forward Andrei Kuzmenko, who is expected to be the top European free agent available this offseason. Kuzmenko isn’t thought of as the next Artemi Panarin, so don’t get your hopes too high, but Kuzmenko does have some offensive ability.

This season with SKA St. Petersburg, Kuzmenko is second in the KHL in scoring with 20 goals and 33 assists, good for 53 points (and second only to Vadim Shipachyov, who has 67 points with Dynamo Moskva). Both players will be heading to the Olympics with Team Russia in a few weeks after being named to the non-NHL version of the roster.

In his KHL career, spanning parts of the last eight seasons, Kuzmenko has played in 315 games, splitting his time in the KHL with CSKA Moskva and SKA St. Petersburg. He has 85 goals and 200 points in his career. Here’s some of his highlights from the 2019-20 season.

Chicago has found success in previous years in the European free agent market, most notably with Artemiy Panarin. They have also found quality players like Michal Kempny, Jan Rutta, David Kämpf, Erik Gustafsson, and Dominik Kahun in previous years. The 25-year-old Kuzmenko is not likely to be the “next Panarin,” but his offensive ability has garnered attention from a number of NHL clubs and could be on the radar for a Blackhawks team that will be in-flux and looking for offensive options for the future.

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Author: Mario Tirabassi

Mario Tirabassi is a writer for Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Mario_Tirabassi.