Kicking off the third installment of my look around the KHL at players that might be going under the radar, today we'll look at one of the most prolific scorers in the league's admittedly short history. Since the Soviet Union dissolved, the Russian league system has changed often, finally getting some normalcy in 1999 when the Superleague was founded. The Superleague was the predecessor to the KHL, which this year is celebrating its fifth season.
That said, I'd like to introduce you to one of its kings, Sergei Mozyakin.
Sergei Mozyakin. Making J-M Liles fear for his life. Born March 30th, 1981. He currently plays for Metallurg Magnitogorsk, and wears the #10 sweater.
If you don't pay much attention overseas, you've probably never heard of Mozyakin. He did have a very brief stint in the QMJHL in 1998, playing in four games for Val d'Or. He was also a 9th round pick of the Blue Jackets in 2002 (263rd overall), but never played a single game in the Columbus system, opting to stay with CSKA Moscow. He played at CSKA for five seasons before joining Khimik Mytischi, a team who today is playing in the KHL under the name Atlant Moscow Oblast. Mozyakin also spent 5 seasons with Atlant, joining Magnitka last season. His last season with CSKA (05-06) showed the potential he's been living up to, putting up 52 points (20+32) in 51 games. So far, the last year of the Superleage (07-08) has been his best, goalwise, knocking in 37. Remember, the KHL only plays a 52 game schedule. Aside from a down season with Magnitka last year (20+19), he's good for over 60 points a season. This season, he's on pace for about 75, which would match his career best. Currently sitting on 266 points, Mozyakin is the second highest scorer in KHL history, having been recently overtaken by CSKA's Alexander Radulov (on 279 points as of 10/27).
His style of play is that of the typical small, but fast forward. He's 5'10", and only weighs in at 170 pounds. Mozyakin's able to get by defenders with his speed and puck control (he's usually in the control relays at KHL All-Star game skills competitions) , and has a wicked wrist shot. Since leaving CSKA, he's concentrated on improving his passing skills as well, and is usually over 30 assists every season.
Internationally, Mozyakin has been a mainstay for Russia's senior squad over the past few years, playing in four World Championships, including back-to-back championships in 2008 and 2009. His scoring prowess hasn't exactly translated well on the international stage, though he's posted decent assist numbers.