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BREAKING: Chmelevski Signs in KHL

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Credit: AP Photo

That’s one way to cull the field.

Sasha Chmelevski has signed a one-year contract with Salavat Yulaev Ufa of the KHL, according to his agent Dan Milstein.

The San Jose Sharks will retain the 23-year-old forward’s rights after the 2022-23 season.

Milstein told San Jose Hockey Now that RFA Chmelevski passed on San Jose’s qualifying offer.

“We talked to his agent and told him our stance on things with him,” Sharks GM Mike Grier said. “He and his agent thought it would be best for him to go play in Europe. I have to do what I feel is best for the organization, on the other side of it, the agent is trying to do what he thinks is best for his clients. At the end of the day, hopefully it works out for Sasha, but this is the path he’s chosen to go down right now.”

The San Jose Sharks appear to be stocked up front entering this season, though it should be noted that quantity doesn’t necessarily equate to playoff-quality.

The Sharks had 20 forwards with a reasonable claim for an NHL job next year, more established veterans like Tomas Hertl, Logan Couture, Timo Meier, Kevin Labanc, Luke Kunin, Oskar Lindblom, Alexander Barabanov, Nick Bonino, Nico Sturm, and Matt Nieto, and less experienced forwards like William Eklund, Thomas Bordeleau, Steven Lorentz, Max Veronneau, Noah Gregor, Sasha Chmelevski, Jasper Weatherby, Scott Reedy, Jonah Gadjovich, and Jeffrey Viel.

Scratch Chmelevski from a crowded competition. You would presume that the center-winger is getting paid more by Salavat Yulaev than his $787,500 qualifying offer – and that he’s in line for more playing time in Russia. This could be a way for the San Jose Sharks prospect to up his value this season instead of being forced to make do with scraps of NHL ice time or deal with the uncertainty of his fit with the new GM’s vision of the team.

The Huntington Beach native is also of Ukrainian descent and can speak Russian.

The Sharks’ 2017 sixth-round draft pick made his NHL debut during the 2020-21 season, registering two assists in five games. He appeared to be getting more comfortable in the NHL this past season, putting up eight assists in 19 games. He hasn’t scored an NHL goal yet.

Chmelevski Processing Game Faster Than Ever

That said, there was no clear spot in the Sharks’ line-up for Chmelevski right now. Perhaps there will be after playing a season under head coach (and former San Jose Sharks first-round pick) Viktor Kozlov in Ufa.

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