It was a good year for Yegor Chinakhov.
The Blue Jackets selected him 21st overall in the 2020 NHL draft, he won the Gagarin Cup (KHL championship) with Avangard Omsk, and now he's been named the KHL Rookie of the Year (Alexei Cherepanov Award).
The 20-year-old winger tallied 10-7-17 in 32 regular-season games, as well as 5-2-7 in 21 playoff games as Avangard Omsk went on to win the Gagarin Cup in six games over CSKA. He also notched a goal in five games as Russia notched a fourth-place finish in this year's World Juniors.
Chinakhov was not projected to be a first-round pick by any stretch of the imagination, and many people were confused when the Blue Jackets picked him. He was ranked as the 30th overall skater in Europe by the NHL Central Scouting Bureau, and when you factored in the North American skaters, Chinkahov was projected to go in the second or third round.
Now, no one's confused. It's too early to anoint the pick a success, due to the fact that Chinakhov's played zero games in North America, but the young Russian has shown the talent and potential that Jarmo Kekalainen and the rest of the Blue Jackets' front office saw when they took a leap and selected him in the first round.
It's a great way to go out, as Chinakhov will head to North America this year to begin his career with the Blue Jackets organization. He signed a three-year, entry-level deal in early May, and the first year of that deal was burned last season, despite him not playing in any games for Cleveland or Columbus. He'll be a restricted free agent following the 2022-23 NHL season.