On May 4th, 2017, the Vegas Golden Knights signed 30-year-old Russian free agent Vadim Shipachyov. He had spent the prior eleven seasons with the KHL, the most recent four with St. Petersburg SKA and seven with Cherepovets Severstal. He was signed to a two-year contract worth 4.5 million dollars per year, but he ended up only being able to appear in the preseason with the Golden Knights this season. He was soon reassigned to the Chicago Wolves, the AHL affiliate of the Vegas Golden Knights. Shipachyov was cut due to struggle adapting to the NHL style after spending so much time in Europe.
This happened on October 3rd. At this point, Shipachyov was allowed to return to Vegas to work-out and condition in preparation for the season to begin. Then on October 14th, he was recalled from his loan to the AHL and returned to Vegas with his wife. He then appeared on the NHL regular season roster for five games, starting on October 15th. He only recorded one point- a goal- but soon after, he was the odd man out again. He was used as the extra forward in practice on the 23rd and was officially sent back down on the 24th. Two days after, the Golden Knights also gave Shipachyov permission to seek out a trade. He then, reluctantly, agreed to report to the Chicago Wolves of the AHL.
However, the center didn’t get a chance to even play in the AHL. He left Chicago prior to their game against Milwaukee on Saturday, October 28th, allegedly to be with his family back in Vegas. This caused Vegas to suspend him without pay indefinitely. As of October 30th, the two parties have decided to part ways, and the Vegas Golden Knights have terminated Shipachyov’s contract. He became a free agent once again and opted to report to the KHL, familiar territory for him.
What does this mean?
Though he only has three NHL games played and one goal to his name, Shipachyov will probably not be the one remembered as being in the wrong in this situation. He was Vegas’ first big signing before they drafted any players in the expansion, and was supposed to be one of the building blocks for a brand new franchise. But Vegas had way too many players to choose from, their original “star” was demoted, and the situation wasn’t handled correctly. Fingers can be pointed and blame can be dealt, but the truth is that both parties did at least one thing wrong throughout the whole process. It’s hard to name good guys and bad guys here. However, the repercussions that could come from this are huge.
Shipachyov’s former Golden Knights teammate Nikita Gusev definitely heard about this situation, since he doesn’t live under a rock, and probably from Shipachyov himself. If Gusev were to jump ship as well, the Knights could be in big trouble in only the first month of their first season. However, this move will hopefully work out for both Vadim Shipachyov and the Vegas Golden Knights. The 30-year-old will have a chance to play in the Olympics and get to go back to the KHL, where he’s comfortable. The Knights will have one less body to worry about, as they’re looking to be a little overpopulated. So, Viva Las Vegas, and Давай! (pronounced “da-vai” and meaning “let’s go!” in Russian.) Here’s to even more crazy things happening this hockey season. Vegas is in for one wild first year.
What are your thoughts on the topic? Who is at fault? Vadim Shipachyov? The Vegas Golden Knights? Both? Neither? Sound off by tweeting us: @PuckItUpBlog.