TURKU, Finland, November 6 (R-Sport) – Young Russian hockey players should get playing experience in their native country before moving abroad, Russia’s national hockey team coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov said Tuesday.
Bilyaletdinov was commenting on a decision by Russian goaltender Andrei Vasilevsky, 18, to move to the NHL next season after being drafted as the 19th overall pick by the Tampa Bay Lightning this year.
“It’s not very good,” he said. “I think he needs to establish himself in the team, to prove that he is ready to play.”
More broadly, Bilyaletdinov said a few years spent maturing in the KHL can help players settle quicker when they eventually arrive in North America.
“This is generally my position: That these young guys must play here (in Russia), and only after that they can go, to come to a certain place and not just hang out there."
Vasilevsky joined 2010 KHL champion Salavat Yulaev Ufa for this season after playing for Tolpar Ufa in the Russian Minor Hockey League but is yet to make an appearance in the Russian-based league.
He played in Monday's 6-2 defeat of a Quebec youth team, stopping 31 shots during the game, the 2012 Super Series opener.