In a development that you can file under “Things That Make Me Go Hmmm…,” the Calgary Hitmen revealed today in a press release that Calgary Flames prospect Pavel Karnaukhov has signed with CSKA Moscow (Central Red Army) of the Kontinental Hockey League.
Incidentally, the press release that had this information was sent out to remind media of tomorrow’s Canadian Hockey League Import Draft. The Hitmen have two import spots to fill (due to the departure of Karnaukhov and Philadelphia Flyers prospect Radel Fazleev) and two import draft picks, while the Flames drafted two players over the weekend (Sweden’s Linus Lindstrom and Finland’s Eetu Tuulola) that could be up for grabs in that draft.
Originally from Minsk, Belarus, Karnaukhov was selected by the Hitmen in the 2014 CHL Import Draft from Krasnaya Armiya Moskva, the Russian junior team associated with CSKA Moscow. Coincidentally, CSKA also selected him in the KHL Draft in 2014. He joined the Hitmen for 2014-15 and was drafted by the Flames in the fifth round of the 2015 NHL Draft.
Karnaukhov had 73 points in 118 games over two seasons with the Hitmen. He missed chunks of this season with injuries, but otherwise was decent though he struggled with consistency at times. His choice to go to the KHL may be a reflection of Calgary’s depth – “Well, they have a lot of centers ahead of me…” – or he could just be home-sick. Decisions like these are usually multi-faceted.
After having two Flames prospects on the junior team they owned last season, the Flames may have zero next season. Or depending on the results of tomorrow’s Import Draft, they could have more than that.