A top young pro is now available to the Edmonton blue line. The Oilers have announced that defenseman Dmitri Samorukov has been medically cleared and removed from the Season-Opening Injured Reserve. After breaking his jaw in development camp in September, Samorukov is actually ready for action a week ahead of his estimated recovery timeline. When he returns to action this week, it will be with the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors, but that may not last. Once Samorukov is back up to game speed, the rookie defender seems primed to finally crack the Edmonton roster at some point this season. Samorukov, 22, was a third-round pick of the Oilers in 2017 out of the OHL and he continued to boost his prospect stock in the years following with continual improvement at the junior level. He turned pro in 2019-20 and recorded ten points in 47 AHL games. Last year, he spent the season on loan in the KHL and produced eight points and a +24 rating in 48 games. Everything has been leading to an NHL opportunity for the talented two-way defender, who will no longer be waiver-exempt beginning next season. Although the Oilers do have improved blue line depth this season with the additions of Duncan Keith and Cody Ceci, Kris Russell and Slater Koekkoek are playing very limited roles early this season and could easily be supplanted in the starting lineup. While William Lagesson likely leads the AHL depth chart and Philip Broberg is the top prospect in Bakersfield, the former has had his shot in recent years and the latter is just 20 and can be afforded a slow development path. The time is now for a healthy Samorukov to get his chance.
- It’s been a bittersweet start to the year for the Dallas Stars in regards to prospect Albert Sjoberg. A 2021 seventh-round pick, Sjoberg should be as irrelevant to his NHL rights holder as a prospect can be as a last-round pick in the most recent draft. There are few expectations for seventh-rounder to make the NHL period, nevertheless show promise in their first year after being selected. However, Sjoberg is bucking the trend. No. 207 recorded only one point in 17 games in the Allsvenkan last season, looking out of place in Sweden’s second tier pro league. The same can’t be said for this season; Sjoberg earned a recall from the U-20 level after notching seven goals and ten points in his first eight games and now has five points in eight games back in the Allsvenskan. This progress has to excite Dallas, but it has also inspired Sjoberg’s current club, Sodertalje SK, to make his pro status official. The team has announced a two-year contract for the budding scorer, which will keep him away from any move to North America through the 2022-23 season. The Stars will be happy to watch him continue to develop overseas but will then clamoring to bring him over if he keeps improving at this rate.
- The London Knights are off to a 6-0-0 start, the last remaining undefeated team in the OHL. Well, the rich are about to get richer. The team has announced that Russian sniper Ruslan Gazizov has signed with the team and will join them immediately. Gazizov was the No. 12 overall pick in the CHL Import Draft this year and his draft pedigree is far from complete. Gazizov is a potential first-round pick in the 2022 Draft and his stock could soar if he makes a clean adjustment to the North American game. The young scorer has put up big numbers in the Russian junior ranks and recently dominated the Hlinka Gretzky Cup and that could easily continue with the Knights.