With the KHL season officially cancelled, Russian players who wish to sign in the NHL are now allowed to do so. Yesterday we saw highly sought after winger Alexander Barabanov sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs, now it sounds like goaltender Alexei Melnichuk is getting closer to making his decision. According to Russian reports, Melnichuk has narrowed his list to the Avalanche, Golden Knights, Sharks and Hurricanes.
Melnichuk went undrafted in the NHL last summer coming out of the SKA St. Petersburg youth system before joining the KHL team for 16 games this season. In those appearances, he posted an 8-5-1 record with a 1.68 GAA, .930 save percentage and four shutouts.
Two seasons ago, the Avalanche had great success when they brought Pavel Francouz over from the KHL. If they can do the same with Melnichuk, they would add a very solid piece to their goaltending depth chart.
Unlike Francouz - who was 27-years old when he came over from the KHL - Melnichuk is more of a raw prospect. He’s only 21 and would need a lot more developing before making an impact at the NHL level.
If the Avalanche are successful in wooing the young netminder, he would sign an entry-level contract and would likely join look towards a couple seasons in the AHL. Melnichuk would likely spend next season learning the North American angles as a part of a tandem with Adam Werner in Loveland with the Eagles.
Given how hard the Avalanche goalies were hit by injury this past season, any added depth to the position would be a great addition to the organization. Particularly if it’s a kid like Melnichuk who looks like a legitimate high-end prospect.