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.