Remember this guy?
It's been a bit of a trying season for Yegor Chinakhov but he's been red hot lately.
Having played in 30 of 65 games for the Columbus Blue Jackets this season, Chinakhov missed time with an ankle injury starting in December but was activated by the Blue Jackets on Feb. 27, finally returning to on-ice action for the Cleveland Monsters on Mar. 1.
In four of the five Monsters games he's played in since his return to the ice, he has six points (three goals, three assists) with all three of his goals coming on the power play. He also has 20 shots on goal in the four games, and twice he's led games with six shots on goal.
After scoring a goal and tallying in the shootout in Cleveland's win vs. Grand Rapids last night, Yegor Chinakhov has 3-3-6 in four games with the Monsters since returning from injury.— Jeff Svoboda (@JacketsInsider) March 12, 2023
CLE two points out of a playoff spot with 16 to go, but with games in hand. #CBJ
As mentioned in the recent article about players needing a strong finish to the season, Chinakhov hasn't really overwhelmed during his Blue Jackets tenure dating back to last season, only playing in 92 of 147 NHL games. But a hot start at the end of the season in Cleveland is a positive that could get him trending in the right direction as he sets his sights on his NHL return.
David Jiricek to Yegor Chinakhov on the power play!#CBJ fans, get used to that one.— Deana Weinheimer (@FPHMonsters) March 12, 2023
1-1 / #CLEvsGR / 16:15 2nd pic.twitter.com/FM1HUA1106
Trey Fix-Wolansky and Yegor Chinakhov both score in the shootout for a @monstershockey victory. pic.twitter.com/R2Yp4BBDgK— American Hockey League (@TheAHL) March 12, 2023
The Monsters are in the midst of trying to crack the playoff picture and are currently two points out of a spot.
Still looking for a first full NHL season to showcase his potential and everything he can offer as the 21st overall pick in 2020 out of the KHL's Omsk Avangard, the 22-year-old Chinakhov still has plenty of time to do just that.
He's currently in the final year of his entry-level contract signed in 2021, in which he spent the first year of that deal overseas, so we'll see what his next deal looks like for next season as an upcoming RFA this summer.
If the Blue Jackets look to recall Chinakhov before this season ends and insert him into the lineup over the remaining 17 games, there are a few candidates he might replace or would at least provide head coach Brad Larsen with some additional lineup options.
For one thing, did you see the lineup Larsen is tooling with ahead of Tuesday's game at the San Jose Sharks?
Hand written lines courtesy of @jrimercbj here today at practice in San Jose..#insider pic.twitter.com/jhTuKV3zsr— Jody Shelley (@shelleyhawk45) March 13, 2023
Liam Foudy has played in a career-high 45 games at the NHL level and has seven points (three goals, four assists).
Cole Sillinger was paper moved ahead of the 3:00 pm ET deadline on Mar. 3 so while it doesn't appear he'll go to Cleveland while the Blue Jackets finish out the string, he could go down at any point and particularly if the Monsters make the playoffs. And maybe for the final playoff push.
Emil Bemstrom has had regular playing time since around the time Chinakhov went down with the ankle injury. In 38 games, Bemstrom has 16 points (five goals, 11 assists).
With little much to play for, this is the season to tinker with any combinations and you can find a way to insert Chinakhov. Of course, playing well in the minors might not be the worst option for him either, right now.