The Vadim Shipachyov saga is well underway with the Vegas Golden Knights this season. Shipachyov signed with Vegas back in May, becoming the second player ever signed by the team. Coming into the season, the 30-year-old Russian, who had spent his entire professional hockey career in the KHL, was expected to be the top line center for the Golden Knights. Things obviously have not worked out between Shipachyov and the coaching staff in Vegas, as he has only played in three games so far, this season.
Shipachyov was sent down to the Golden Knight’s AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves. He initially reported to the Wolves and skated with them Friday, but he left the team without permission before their game against the Milwaukee Admirals on Saturday, October 28th. Shipachyov was then suspended by the Knights organization without pay.
But back on October 25th, Shipachyov’s representatives asked the Golden Knights for permission to seek a trade, and it was granted. The Shipachyov experiment is all but over in Vegas, because he hasn’t been given a fair chance. He has only played in three of their games so far, as they are playing in their 11th game of the season tonight. Shipachyov scored one goal during his three games, and it was back against the Boston Bruins on October 15th.
Shipachyov is 30 years old, and saw a lot of success in his playing days in the KHL. Shipachyov had played the last nine seasons in the KHL, which accounted for 445 regular season games, and 82 playoff games. Keep in mind that the KHL regular season is only 60 games long. In those 445 regular season games, Shipachyov scored 137 goals and tallied 275 assists, totaling 412 points. In 82 career playoff games, he scored 22 goals and added 47 assists, for a total of 69 points.
Ulf Andersson of EliteProspects.com said this of Shipachyov back in 2013:
“Shipachyov is a skilled center with excellent on-ice vision. He skates very well and with a fluid stride. Owns great offensive instincts and likes to have the puck on his stick. Could improve his all-around game. Isn’t overly efficient in physical battles.”
In an article by Sportsnet’s Rory Boylen, he details potential fits for Shipachyov. Teams on his list include the Florida Panthers, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, Carolina Hurricanes, and of course, the St. Louis Blues. Here’s what Boylen had to say about Shipachyov and the Blues:
“This team is off to a very strong start and the offense is clicking at an over three goals per game rate, but Shipachyov could be a nice, if expensive, depth add. With Brayden Schenn and Paul Stastny occupying the top two center roles, Shipachyov would fit in here as a No. 3 center, where he could be an upgrade on Oskar Sundqvist and his two points in 10 games. The only thing is since the Blues are already up against the cap, it would be hard to make this fit, considering Shipachyov would come in as a very expensive 3C.”
Shipachyov’s cap hit this season is $4.5 million, and is the same for next season as well, as he is signed through the 2018-19 season. As Boylen stated, the Blues are already up against the cap. In order to trade for him, the Blues would have to move a big contract. Since Vegas wants to get him out of the organization as soon as possible, their asking price is not likely going to be extremely high. So, while the Knights would likely take a mid to low prospect or draft pick or two for Shipachyov, the Blues are going to be unable to do that. Montreal has nearly $7 million in cap space right now, which is why they are the favorite to trade for Shipachyov.
Schenn and Stastny will occupy the top two center spots all season, barring an injury. Right now, the Blues have Oskar Sundqvist as their usual third line center. Shipachyov’s playmaking is undoubtedly great. He would certainly be a talented upgrade on the third line, but a pricey one. The Blues would have to move someone like Patrik Berglund ($3.850 million) and Magnus Pääjärvi ($800K), which would open $4.650 million in cap space, just enough for Shipachyov’s contract.
While I am not saying the Blues will or will not do this, I will say it would make sense for the right price. Shipachyov is unproven in the NHL obviously, but his playmaking skills he showcased in the KHL and with Team Russia are phenomenal. He would not have the pressure to put up first or even second line numbers, and could boost the Blues offense even more. The fit makes sense, but does Doug Armstrong want to make a trade for a 30-year-old who tore up the KHL but is unproven in the NHL? We shall wait and see how this Vadim Shipachyov saga drags out over the next few weeks.