How has the composition of Kazan changed?
“Ak Bars” has long been looking for amplification and did not hide it. The club was looking for the sixth legionnaire, but so far has done without the signing of foreign newcomers. Yesterday, BUSINESS Online became aware of three club deals – this is an extremely rare case when it comes to deadline or the opening of the free agent market.
Ak Bars traded in SKA defender Igor Ozhiganovahaving received in return a defender Roman Rukavishnikov and forward Viktor Tikhonov. Then he made a deal with Spartak: the defender went to Moscow Damir Musin, in the opposite direction – forward Vyacheslav Leshchenko. Another Kazan pupil, forward Artyom Mikheev exchanged for Severstal in exchange for striker Vladislav Kodolu.
Why did Ak Bars break up with the national team player and two own pupils?
OZHIGANOVA COULD EXCHANGE ANOTHER TWO WEEKS BACK
In the summer, Ozhiganov’s shuttle looked key to the new “Ak Bars” Kvartalnov. The defender returned to Russia from the NHL, and in Kazan they saw him as one of the main stars of the new team. In addition, Ozhiganova wanted to invite Kvartalnov personally to Ak Bars, who had worked with him for a long time at CSKA and Siberia and helped the defender make a name for himself in the army club. But already during the pre-season matches, there were fears that Ozhiganov would not become a key player in Ak Bars. The defender made a lot of mistakes and did not stand out from the rest. Then this was not given much importance. To draw conclusions on summer hockey is premature.
But the season began, and fears were confirmed. Although at some point Ozhiganov was the most productive defender of the team, he lacked stability – already in the second month of the championship the defender got into the reserve, and in the last five matches he played only once.
First of all, Ozhiganov completely lost the role of the main defender for the majority. In this component, he lost the competition first Mikel Wickstrand, and then – Alberta Jarullin and Andrei Pedan. Igor’s exchange is Kvartalnov’s personal decision, who obviously expected more from the defender, whose top game he remembered for CSKA.
According to our data, Ozhiganov could be exchanged a month ago. Then the option of exchanging only for Roman Rukavishnikov, later there was an option with Nail Yakupov. Kvartalnov doubted for a long time whether to release the defender, and made a decision only last week.
At first glance, the exchange of Ozhiganov for two SKA players cannot be called equal: Rukavishnikov has never been a player in the main team of the army club, and Tikhonov this season is generally a reserve player (nine matches, one point). But here the most important thing is that Ozhiganova was abandoned by the head coach, who no longer saw him in the squad. Everything else is the details.
At the same time, Ak Bars does not lose anything in money. Ozhiganov’s salary of 75 million rubles per season – about the same amount are received by Rukavishnikov and Tikhonov combined. Roman, moreover, has a bilateral contract.
Will the players fit into the Kvartalnov system? The chances are high. 27-year-old Rukavishnikov is a homebody, an easily manageable hockey player who knows how to play hard and is not afraid to defend his own piglet. Many of the Ak Bars defense players have problems with the latter component.
Tikhonov this season is a victim of the coaching staff. In any other club, the grandson of the famous Soviet coach Viktor Tikhonov I would calmly play in the first two triples, but in SKA there is a constant rotation, and they do not see Victor in the main team. Quarterly, at the time, he worked with Tikhonov at Severstal and understands what the player is capable of.
Tikhonov has tremendous motivation. In SKA, they stopped believing in him, and Ak Bars was a great opportunity for him to restart his career. According to our sources, in SKA Tikhonov was one of those players around whom the backbone of the team was built in the locker room. Victor is a very team player, and this is an important point.
EXCHANGE WITH SPARTAK
Musin returned to Ak Bars last season after showing himself well at Neftekhimik. Damir went to the training camp with the Kazan club, and already in Finland he was injured in training. He got his chance at Kvartalnov in an away game against Sochi, where Kazan won (6: 3). He defender did not use it. Musin made a lot of mistakes and finished the match with a utility score of -2. It was the only hockey game for Ak Bars Kvartalnov.
After that, Musin went to Bars to receive game practice. There is no doubt that he is a KHL level player. As a result, the club found an option with an exchange in Spartak for Leshchenko. Even when in a team Oleg Znark there were many injured, Vyacheslav did not always get into the application. At the same time, the forward's statistics are not bad – in nine matches 5 (1 + 4) points and a utility score of +4. Before Znark appeared in Spartak, 24-year-old Leshchenko played in the first two links, but the new coach decided to bet on older strikers.
At the invitation Leshchenko personally insisted Quarterly. Ak Bars plays energy-intensive hockey, so fast and young Leshchenko will definitely come in handy. Musin, according to the coach, did not reach the level of Ak Bars. Znarok believes in a defender, who was invited several times to the national team to the stages of the Eurotour.
EXCHANGE WITH SEVERSTAL
Mikheev was good in the top three with Alexey Potapov and Artyom Lukoyanov last season. With tactics Zinetuly Bilyaletdinov the center forward was supposed to be almost the third defender and to the maximum help the defense. The technical and creative Mikheev adapted for a long time to the system, but when they began to trust him, he reserved a place in the composition. Before the start of this season, it seemed that Artyom would become a key player in Ak Bars: his own pupil progressed quickly and felt more confident in the KHL with each season.
But Kvartalnov has a different vision of hockey – the whole five should actively participate in both attacking and defensive actions. And all players must be fast. Mikheev has other strong qualities, and in the new Ak Bars he could not show them. Artyom did not get into the top 6, and in the lower three there are more adapted to this role Mikhail Fisenko and Vyacheslav Osnovin. As a result, from the end of September Mikheev played only for Bars and was not involved in the training of the main team.
Severstal's exchange should go plus – the team clearly lacks creative players. And Mikheev will surely get a lot of playing time in the upper echelons, as well as in the majority. Ak Bars received the 23-year-old Kodolu, which surpasses Mikheev in speed. Vladislav is not the most productive striker: in 25 games of the current season he has 7 (1 + 6) points. But he will be more useful in the minority and the game without the puck. Kodola will arrive in Kazan only after the November pause, as the center forward is called up to the Russian Olympic team.
Confused by the game, the newcomer “leopards” on the face-off – this season he has only 37% of the won martial arts. Of the six hockey players most often going to face-offs at Ak Bars (more than 100 face-offs in a season), only Artyom Galimov less than 50% (47.4%). True, Kvartalnov can use Kodolu on the flank – the player has experience playing the extreme striker.
“AK BARSU” STILL NEEDS ITS TEACHERS
According to the strategy announced by the club president Nail Maganov, by 2022 the composition of Kazan should consist of graduates of the “leopards” school by 70 percent. In this regard, exchanges look strange – Ak Bars gave away local pupils Musin and Mikheev. But keeping players in the farm club just because of this would be strange: if the coach does not see them in the squad, it is better to exchange valuable assets.
The defender stopped falling into the main team Roman Abrosimov, which was indispensable under Bilyaletdinov. But now, defense players must play much more actively in an alien zone and be able to connect to attacks. Abrosimov plays in Barca, but so far, according to our information, the club does not have any profitable options for its exchange.
Despite the departure of two Kazan pupils, Ak Bars does not refuse to bet on local players. Firstly, only this season three graduates of their own school started playing in the team (Artyom Valeev, Artyom Galimov, Daniil Zhuravlev) Secondly, the club system has a lot of talented young people. And thirdly, no one closes the doors to Ak Bars for those who leave it.