Big-spending SKA St. Petersburg selected defenseman Denis Alexandrov as the No. 1 pick of the 2012 KHL entry draft Saturday.
Forward Valery Nichushkin topped the draft ratings but was picked 11th by Dynamo Minsk, and draft-protected by Traktor Chelyabinsk as he had come through the Traktor youth system.
SKA traded with Sibir Novosibirsk for the top pick shortly before the draw.
“I’m very satisfied that SKA picked me,” Alexandrov said.
“I’m ready psychologically for what’s coming, moving to a new city, because I’m always happy playing hockey anywhere,” the Moscow-based player said.
Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, building a new squad after the entire roster died in an air crash last season, selected Alexander Barkov Jr. from Finnish club Tappara with the No. 2 pick.
Ak Bars Kazan, the 2009 and 2010 Gagarin Cup winner, traded for the No. 3 pick with Vityaz Chekhov to keep a hold on Rinat Valiev, from the Ak Bars youth system.
Vityaz finished last in the 2011-12 standings amid reports of financial problems, and was punished for a lack of investment in its farm program by losing the right to draft-protect players. This meant that Vityaz was unable to stop Metallurg Novokuznetsk taking Nikolai Goldobin with the No. 8 pick.
Highly rated center Radek Faksa is reportedly a target for several NHL teams, but that did not stop Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk from ambitiously using the No. 7 pick on the Czech, who scored 69 points in 62 games this season for the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League.
In another case of a KHL team selecting a player based in North America, Dynamo Minsk selected defenseman Roman Hrabarenka of the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles.
The 19-year-old, also known as Roman Graborenko, played seven games for the Belarus national team at the world championships, and his selection is one of the first acts of Belarus coach Kari Heikkila’s new tenure as Dynamo Minsk coach.
Edmonton Oilers prospect Martin Gernat was snapped up by Salavat Yulaev Ufa at No. 19, but it remains to be seen whether the Slovakian defenseman, who played for the junior Edmonton Oil Kings for the last two season, will move to Russia.
Reigning Gagarin Cup champion Dynamo Moscow traded away both first-round picks to Metallurg Novokuznetsk.
The KHL’s new teams Donbass Donetsk and Slovan Bratislava were put at the bottom of the draft list alongside relocated Lev Prague, and Lev and Slovan both selected players from their home countries in the first round to help them with foreign-player rules.