Nikita Kashirsky celebrating a goal for the Stingrays.

Here's Nikita as a sophomore when he played for the Norwich Cadets.

Here's Nikita as a sophomore when he played for the Norwich Cadets.

Photo by David Albers of naplenews.com

Here at RMNB, we love to  write a lot about Alex Ovechkin, Semyon Varlamov, Alex Semin, Dmitri Orlov, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Stanislav Galiev, and Dmitri Kugryshev (did I forget anyone?), but we’ve overlooked the 8th (and the least-known) Russian in the Caps  system, Nikita Kashirsky. Now that he has been officially invited to rookie camp to form another awesome trio of Russians, we’ll fix that immediately.

Kashirsky, 24, is a Muscovite (just like me Ovi). As a kid, he started playing hockey at Dynamo and was a left winger. In the past, when Ovechkin was asked about who his favorite line-mates were at the Dynamo school, Kashirsky’s was one of the first names he always mentioned.  

“We grew up together,” Kashirsky said of his relationship with The Great 8 in an interview with Corey Masisak last year. “We played in Dynamo since we were 8 years old. We’ve been friends since then, I guess. We became really good friends around the age of 14 or 15. Since then we’ve always been really close. We come to each other’s house, spend the weekends and stuff. We’ve been like brothers since that time.”

At age 17, Nikita packed his bags and moved to DC, where he played for the the AJHL’s Washington Junior Nationals while attending Georgetown Prep. After 2 years of that, he attended Norwich University (during Ovi’s rookie season) where he passed up opportunities to go pro so that he could get his degree. Once he graduated college, Kashirsky came back to try out for the Capitals.

Even though he had pro tryout contracts with the Springfield Falcons (an Oilers farm club) and the Manitoba Moose (Canucks), he stayed as a sweet part of the ECHL pie [Ed. note -  File this sentence under "Fedor-isms we don't understand"]. And finally, during this year’s Calder Cup finals, Tim Leone of The Patriot-News reported that the Bears and Kashirsky agreed on a two-way AHL/ECHL deal.

From what I’ve read, Kashirsky’s well-educated and a very Americanized guy (maybe he could rub off on Semin).  Alesandro Seren Rosso of RussianProspect.com also writes of Nikita:

[He] is a player which is more famous because of his close friendship with Caps’ superstar Alexander Ovechkin than for his actual hockey career. He was an All-Star…in the ECHL. But that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have the potential. Kashirsky has good hands and showed in the past that he can score spectacular goals. On the other hand, though, his skating isn’t on par with the NHL level.

As he skated in one Caps development camp without being signed to an NHL contract, one could assume that the doors for the pro competition are closed for him. But it’s not like that, I think. We’ve seen many players with less talent getting regular spots in the NHL. Kashirsky needs to further work over his game to achieve his dream of playing with his friend Alex.

After a disappointing 2009-10 campaign, where he finished with 16 games and only three points with the Manitoba Moose of the AHL, Nikita will have another chance to showcase his talent in the NHL’s farm league, this time with the Hershey Bears. One of this season’s tasks will be for him to help rookie Dmitry Kugryshev in dealing with the new environment, giving him some hand from a country mate.

But this means also that the Caps will have a full year to scout him. It will be a key season for Kashirsky and he might earn a spot in the NHL if he shows his full potential night in, night out, and not only in a game or two. Consistency will be the key.

But it’s hard not to love this guy. First, we love his enthusiasm as he congratulates his Stingray teammates after a 4-0 victory over the Charlotte Checkers. On this night, he had a hat trick.

Sure, Nikita’s skating ability might need some work, but he sure looks fast here:

At least his stick-handling’s sick. Doesn’t it remind you of a certain someone?

Plus this guy really knows how to dress for Christmas:

Finally, we have the ultimate proof of his famous childhood friendship!  Here’s Nikita and a star-spangled Alex Ovechkin.

OMG. So. Precious.

OMG. So. Precious.

If you’d like to read more on Kashirsky, check out: NHL.com article (December 2009)Washington Times article (July 2009) | HFBoards thread

  • http://musingsofacapsfan.blogspot.com Netty

    nice shirt young Ovechkin. Wonder where he got that? awesome pic btw

  • BobbyG

    Thanks for posting the very nice photo of Ovie and his childhood pal Nicky. I’ve seen it before, and wondered why he’s wearing such an obvious US-centric outfit. Yes, it looks good on him but IMO it’s out of place and out of character. Ovie’s attitude has always been “Russia is #1″ for everything his whole life. Even after 5 years playing hockey in this country I don’t think he’s fully embraced America, although now his opinion could have softened a bit. It’s hard to imagine his parents buying this outfit or having it made for him at the time the pic was taken.

  • http://make-lemons.com Michelle

    YAY for another Russian! (and just for the record this gal doesn’t want Sasha Minor to EVER change ;) )

  • Amanda

    Love the pic!

  • Steph

    They are both wearing US centric clothing. Who knows what it was like in Russia at the time the picture was taken (Fedor?) I was probably just the times.

  • CapsFan1975

    The picture seems to be prophetic in a way. Both the kids ended up in America at some point. Nikita for the tail end of HS and Ovi for the Caps. If someone didn’t know better, would they assume that these were American kids?

  • http://www.russianhockeyfans.com Alexander Zaytsev

    His outfit is explained by the time the picture was taken at. It was the “Anything from abroad = awesome” 90s

  • Fedor Fedin

    Yeah, I guys wanted to say the same thing. It’s all 90s.

  • Dawn

    Wow, in that Christmas video, when Nikita speaks… it really sounds like there is no trace of a Russian accent. Not one bit. Maybe it was just muffled with all the background noise… but it sounded like it to me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nikita-Kashirsky-Fan-Page/109195325767641 Teri

    I’m a huge fan! In fact, three of the videos you have here are mine. I’m flattered…: )

  • Fedor Fedin

    @Dawn
    C’mon, he lives in US for 8 years! He graduated from the university in US, co I think it’s understandable.