Barracuda forward Ivan Chekhovich returns to KHL

Instead of playing in the AHL next season, Sharks prospect Ivan Chekhovich will return to Russia.

After being selected in the seventh round of the 2017 NHL draft, and a year of experience in the AHL, he will return to the KHL on loan for the upcoming season.

Between Ivan Chekhovich being from Russia and the current circumstances in the global pandemic, this appears to be a personal decision.

Originally born in Yekaterinburg, he will play for HC Torpedo, roughly 630 miles east of his hometown.

This is significant for the Sharks because he will play with another Team Teal prospect on loan in Alexei Melnichuk.

Chekhovich has yet to truly breakthrough in the AHL, only accounting for 12 points last season.

However, he has shown promise in various other leagues. In 2014-2015, with Dynamo Moskva’s under-16 team, he had 42 points in just 36 games.

While on Baie-Comeau Drakkar in the QMJHL, he had 43 goals and 62 assists over a period of 66 games.

This is particularly notable because he had a better, more efficient season with his junior club than fellow Drakkar alum Marc-André Bergeron.

Bergeron had a respectable ten-year career in the NHL, playing for the Edmonton Oilers, Tampa Bay Lightning, New York Islanders, Minnesota Wild, and Montreal Canadiens. Playing a total of 490 games, he finished his career with 235 points.

If the young prospect is anything like his predecessor, it could mean good things in the future. Hopefully, as Chekhovich continues to develop, he could become a fourth- or third-line forward for San Jose one day.

For now, it is more important to see how he progresses in the KHL before returning to the AHL. The 21-year old prospect has not played in Russia since moving to Canada, so it is hard to gauge how well he will do.

What is clear is that he is a dynamic goal scorer, which the Sharks are in dire need of going forward. It is impressive to see the way he works his angles and his intelligent shot selection.

In theory, playing in Russia will help him hone in this skill and thus show improvement when he returns to the Barracuda.

For now, San Jose’s AHL roster will rely on the likes of Maxim Letunov, Jayden Halbegwachs, Joachim Blichfeld, Trevor Carrick, and Jeffrey Viel.

Letunov had 28 assists and 40 points last year, which resulted in him winning team MVP in the 2019-2020 season.

Blichfeld also has a high ceiling winning the Barracuda rookie of the year award and saw a bit of NHL ice time in four separate games.

At 25-years old, Carrick also looks to be an interesting prospect. While with the Carolina Hurricanes AHL affiliate, the Charlotte Checkers, he did not pan out.

But since arriving in San Jose, he was the most efficient d-man on the Barracuda. As a result, he won the Barracuda top defenseman award last season.

Finally, Viel impressed everyone in San Jose last off-season with a tremendous jump in performance between his rookie and sophomore year. Additionally, he grew into a leadership role this past season and was the John McCarthy leadership award’s inaugural winner.

Needless to say, between Melnichuk and Checkovich in the KHL and all the talent on the AHL roster, fans can be optimistic moving forward.