Follow on Twitter at @ChunkletsHockey or send email to Also check out The Road to Khabarovsk on Tumblr, and you can read some of my other hockey writings at Olympic Hockey News and Puckrant!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

2013-14 Preview: Admiral Vladivostok

Finnish coach Hannu Jortikka was already a legend in the Far East even before taking on the job as Admiral Vladivostok's first coach, having led Amur Khabarovsk to the playoffs in 2011-12.  Now, he is in the midst of writing another good story out there, with a big assist from a kid scooped up out of a junior system on the other side of the country.

INCOMING: D Yegor Antropov (Legion Tyumen [MHL]) | F Sergei Barbashёv (CSKA*) | F Niclas Bergfors (Severstal*) | F Igor Bortnikov (Neftekhimik*) | D Mike Commodore (Texas Stars [AHL]) | F Viktor Drugov (Sibir*) | F Yevgeny Grachёv (Peoria Rivermen [AHL]) | F Richard Gynge (Dynamo Moscow*) | G Yevgeni Ivannikov (SKA*) | D Dmitry Kostromitin (Traktor*) | F Alexander Kuznetsov (Atlant*) | F Sergei Lesnukhin (Vityaz*) | F Enver Lisin (Metallurg Magnitogorsk*) | G Joakim Lundström (Timrå [SEL]) | F Andrei Nikitenko (Sibir*) | D Denis Osipov (Yugra*) | D Todd Perry (Saryarka Karaganda [VHL]) | F Vladimir Pervushin (Avangard*) | D Anton Poleschuk (Amur*) | D Mathias Porseland (Lev) | F Felix Schütz (Kölner Haie [DEL]) | F Konstantin Sokolov (Ak Bars*) | D Artёm Ternavsky (Hannover Scorpions [DEL]) | F Alexei Ugarov (Torpedo*) | D Artёm Zemchёnok (Spartak*)

* = Player taken in expansion draft.

Coach: Hannu Jortikka (since Summer, 2013)

Of course, with Admiral being an expansion team, we can dispense with the category of "Players Who Left Over the Summer."  Admiral built primarily through the June expansion draft and some free agent signings, and they built very definitely for the future.  Only three players - Ternavsky, Commodore, and Nikitenko -- are over 30 years old, and Commodore is a very recent arrival.  As you might imagine with a brand-new team, Admiral's lineup is not star-studded, as the team has relied on middle-range talent to get things done this season.

Up front, Lisin was probably the big addition, along with Gynge and Bergfors.  Bergfors, who has scored 10 goals, and Lisin, tied for the team lead in points with 16 in 24 games, have both been key members of Admiral's attack, and they have received some perhaps unexpected aid from Schütz.  The 26-year-old Bavarian has 16 points in 27 games, which matches his scoring rate from the DEL and betters what he was doing in the AHL a few seasons ago.  Gynge, unfortunately, has been a bit of a disappointment at least stat-wise -- he has only 6 points in 22 games, after being a half-point-per-game player or better over most of his career at various levels.

On defense, Admiral have received stalwart work from several players.  Ternavsky, a KHL veteran who played last year in Germany, is +5 on the year, as is Porseland (Admiral are even overall).  Commodore was signed in October, and it has proved be an astute pickup -- the long-time NHLer has only played 5 games for Admiral so far, but already has 2 points and a +3 rating.  Antropov, the youngest of the team's defensemen at 21, has a solid 9 points so far in 27 games (Ternavsky has 7), but his team-worst -7 suggests that there is some development to be done on the other side of the puck.

However, it is in goal that Admiral hit the home run.  Going into the season, it looked very much like Lundström would get the bulk of the work, and he has indeed played in 18 games so far, three more than Ivannikov.  However, whereas Lundström has a fairly pedestrian .915 save percentage, Ivannikov has burst onto with scene with a .944, 7th-best in the KHL.  The 22-year-old rookie from St. Petersburg, collected from SKA in the expansion draft, is of course very very early in his career, but his early performance must be giving Admiral's scouts warm and fuzzy feelings inside.

Setting the bar: Admiral's new arena opened on time in September, which was a big step towards already calling this season a success.  As far as the on-ice product is concerned, my thought going into the season was that about 16 or 17 wins would mark a good beginning for Admiral, and I think I will stick to that as a marker of success.  So things are going well indeed -- Admiral are already three-quarters of the way there, with 12 wins through the halfway point!

Next up: Lev Prague!


  1. Lundström's contract has been terminated (and Miko Hovinen leaves the sinking ship in Novokuznetsk to hire in Vladivostok). I don't know if this was the direct comparison to Ivannikov who, you will remember this, was responsible for shoot-out from the start of the season. I thought it was weird back then to change goaltenders for the shoot-out but maybe it was an early sign that Jortikka didn't trust Lundström completely. And without the shoot-outs Ivannikov wouldn't have been eligible for the save percentage stat (you have to have played more than a third of the games of your team which he hadn't at the time).

    Schütz was a lot better in the beginning of the season. I started following he team because of him (the only German in the league!) and now hope that they reach the play-offs. But I also thought at the start of the season that Admiral could be my little pet favourite and Avangard would be the team I could cheer for in the play-offs. Now the roles are almost reversed. :(

    1. I knew that as soon as I put the preview up Admiral would make some sort of move... :) Hovinen in for Lundström looks a little bit like a sideways move - their numbers are quite similar! Ivannikov, as you say, has been used in interesting ways. He's got one less game than Lundström, and 300 fewer minutes right now!

      What's happened with Avangard has been astounding. They just never fixed the goaltending situation. However, I still would not be too surprised to see them turn it around in the second half of the season, and make the playoffs!