Chicago Blackhawks prospect Maxim Shalunov has been named to the 2017 KHL All-Star Game on Monday.
The event will be Jan. 22 in Ufa, Russia. Much like the NHL’s All-Star Game, the KHL splits the event into four divisional teams, each made up of one goaltender, three defenseman and six forwards. Each team also has one player from the Molodezhnaya Hokkeinaya Liga (MHL), Russia’s major junior hockey league.
Shalunov, 23, has 17 goals and 32 points in 37 games this season for Sibir Novosibirsk. He’s tied for 13th in the league with 0.86 points per game. The Hawks have retained his NHL rights the past three seasons after drafting him in the fourth round in 2011.
KHL unveils 2017 All-Star Game uniforms: https://t.co/SXrWtNZwor #KHLAllStar pic.twitter.com/qHS1De9k7L— KHL (@khl_eng) November 30, 2016
Shumi Babaev, Shaulnov’s agent, told The Athletic’s Scott Powers that his client is open to talking with the Hawks about signing with Chicago. But the 6-foot-3 forward and Babaev want to see top-6 role in Chicago’s lineup.
“Where does he play in Chicago? The third line?” Babaev said. “I think just maybe not so the right time to come back because like I don’t think there’s too much space in Chicago to play for the next season. He needs to play. He will be in the bench or they send him to the AHL.
“It’s like any case, we’re open. We just need to talk. We just need to figure out what’s the best place.”
Hawks General Manager Stan Bowman is also interested in signing the rising KHL star. Chicago has displayed remarkable success with former KHL standouts with winger Artemi Panarin, who won the 2016 Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie, after signing as free agent in April 2015. They also signed defenseman Michal Kempny last offseason.
Shalunov may not be the only Russian player getting attention from the Blackhawks in the summer, either. Russian outlet Championat recently reported Chicago could be interested in 23-year-old forward Vladimir Tkachyov from AK Bars, so that could be another potential target as Bowman looks to continue digging through the KHL for new talent.
All-Star Game rosters
Goalie: Igor Shestyorkin (Rangers); Defensemen: Matthew Gilroy, Chay Genoway, Vyacheslav Voynov; Forwards: Pavel Datsyuk, Ilya Kovalchuk, Matt Ellison, Ryan Stoa, Jonathan Cheechoo, Francis Pare
Goalie: Ilya Sorokin (Islanders); Defensemen: Mat Robinson, Igor Ozhiganov, Oscar Fantenberg; Forwards: Valeri Nichushkin (Stars), Brandon Kozun, Ivan Telegin (Jets), Maxim Afinogenov, Dmitri Kagarlitsky, Vladimir Galuzin
Goalie: Pavel Francouz; Defensemen: Chris Lee, Kirill Koltsov; Forwards: Sergei Mozyakin, Vladimir Tkachyov, Anatoli Golyshev (Islanders), Dan Sexton, Nikita Filatov, Danis Zaripov, Jakub Kovar
Goalie: Igor Bobkov; Defensemen: Evgeny Medvedev, Zakhar Arzamastsev, Jan Kolar; Forwards: Linus Omark, Maxim Shalunov (Blackhawks), Vladimir Sobotka (Blues), Kirill Kaprizov (Wild), Nigel Dawes, Chad Rau