While the Stanley Cup Playoffs won't be in the offing for the Columbus Blue Jackets, one of its top prospects is currently playing for a championship of his own.
Yegor Chinakhov, the Blue Jackets first-round pick (21st overall) from 2020, is the last (Russian) man standing, playing – and scoring – in the KHL's Gagarin Cup.
With the goal, Chinakhov has 5-2-7 in 17 playoff games, following up on a strong rookie regular season in which he posted 10-7-17 in 32 games. The 20-year-old's five playoff goals are tied for second on Avangard Omsk. His goal sparked Omsk, who took Game 1 with a commanding 4-1 win over powerhouse CSKA Moscow.
Per The Athletic's Aaron Portzline, Chinakhov is the second-youngest player skating in the Gagarin Cup Final.
Meanwhile, Kirill Marchenko (St. Petersburg SKA) and Dmitri Voronkov (Kazan Ak Bars) were eliminated in the semifinals, but they both made news in their own right.
Marchenko, arguably the top prospect in the organization, scored this highlight-reel goal in the semifinals.
This stunning goal by Kirill Marchenko has been crowned the best of the Western Conference final!— SKA Ice Hockey Club (@hcSKA_News) April 17, 2021
It really was a special moment against CSKA in Moscow! Full video: #hcSKA #GagarinCup https://t.co/lhuMxP0tCe
The 20-year old, who was drafted in the second round (#49) in 2018, posted a solid 15-13-28 in 41 regular-season games this season and followed it up with 3-1-4 in 14 playoff games. Over the past two seasons, Marchenko became SKA's all-time scoring leader for a player under the age of 21. From the report:
Boasting 53 (28+25) points in the KHL, fellow forward Kirill Marchenko has earned more points in the league than any other SKA player under the age of 21.
He was recently called up to Russia's National Team, where he'll compete against Belarus in the Euro Hockey Challenge.
Then there's Voronkov, the Blue Jackets hulking fourth-round pick (#114) from 2019. The 20-year-old, who "might have been the best player in the seven-game series with 4 goals and 2 assists", capped off a successful season, posting 7-12-19 in 53 regular-season games before taking his game to another level in the playoffs, to the tune of 6-4-10 in 15 games. He was named one of the KHL's Best Players Of The Conference Finals.
Dmitri Voronkov (@BlueJacketsNHL) continues to go beast mode in the KHL playoffs, with another 3 points (1 goal, 2 assists) in yesterday's game, for 10 points in 15.#CBJ https://t.co/M99FYZRlnV pic.twitter.com/686D8N9jTO— EP Rinkside (@EPRinkside) April 16, 2021
Per reports, Voronkov will be joining Marchenko on the National team.
For the Blue Jackets to take the next step, they will have to lean heavily on this trio of Russian forwards.