The Dallas Stars selected Russian-born right winger Denis Gurianov with the 12th overall selection at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft – and now, after his first full season of KHL play with Togliatti Lada, the team has decided to try and bring him on board in North America for next year.
The Stars inked Gurianov, who finished his 2015-16 campaign with four goals and five points in 47 KHL games and six points in seven MHL games, to his first entry-level deal with the club. The expectation is likely that he’ll make the move to North America for next season, where he can join the AHL’s Texas Stars in hopes of seeing his production make a jump.
For Gurianov, the move to North America could be the fresh start he needs. His offensive point totals in the KHL were concerning for a first round pick, but there’s evidence to suggest that this was largely caused by the forward being a victim of his own circumstances. According to the KHL website, the 18 year old right winger scored all of his goals at even strength and played just a hair over ten minutes per night during the regular season, putting him in a strictly fourth line role for Togliatti. He took 66 SOG through his 47 games of play, though, which ranked seventh on the team’s offense in total recorded shot bulk despite holding games in hand (and despite sitting 17th out of 19 forwards for average TOI).
He was also playing on one of the worst offensive teams in the KHL, with the team collecting just 120 regular season goals for the second worst goal total in the league. Hopefully, the Stars will see his production jump with a move to North America.