Anton Slepyshev quits Edmonton Oilers for KHL

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Anton Slepyshev
SAN JOSE, CA - FEBRUARY 27: Anton Slepyshev #58 of the Edmonton Oilers looks on during the game against the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center on February 27, 2018 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Rocky W. Widner/NHL/Getty Images)
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There were hints that he would be leaving as early as this January. At that time it was rumoured that the Edmonton Oilers had plans to trade Anton Slepyshev. Later, an April  “Goodbye America” Instagram post swept away most doubts. Now it is official – Anton Slepyshev has quit the Oilers and opted to return to the KHL.

Anton Slepyshev will not be a part of the Edmonton Oilers next season. Destination CKSA Moscow

The KHL club Salavat Ufa sold Slepyshev’s rights to CKSA Moscow on Thursday. With this transaction, the Moscow club will likely sign him quickly. Slepeshev’s contract with the Oilers expires on June 30th and he cannot sign until then. However, reports indicate that the RFA’s deal with CSKA is just waiting to become official.

A native of Penza, Russia, Slepyshev is not a newcomer to the KHL. He had spent five seasons in the KHL before joining the Oilers for the 2015-16 season.

First-overall KHL selection

The Edmonton Oilers originally drafted the first-overall KHL selection in the third round, 88th overall, of the 2013 NHL Draft. Anton Slepyshev was in his second year of eligibility because teams considered him unlikely to come play to NHL. Being a captain of the Russian team, he showed some flashes at the World Juniors the following season.

Expected to take a role as a hard-shooting right winger, patrolling the left circle on the power play, he never really fulfilled his full potential in Edmonton. His development has been slower than everyone expected.

A bumpy road overseas

Slepyshev, who turns 24 next week, spent three years in North America.

He scored 10 goals and posted 23 points in 102 games with the Oilers over the past three seasons, averaging 11 minutes a night at even strength and just eight seconds on the powerplay. His production rates stayed constant at 0.24 P/GP. One may say that was the only case of his consistency.

Slepyshev played sparingly in 2017-18 in the main roster, splitting his time between Edmonton and Bakersfield. He started the year on the IR and basically was outplayed by other roster players.

In 50 NHL games of the last season, Anton Slepyshev scored six goals and posted 12 points. Often a healthy scratch, he found himself on the trade market prior to the February deadline. However, a dynamic winger with great hands and slick moves stayed in Edmonton for the lack of offers from the other teams.

The main reason why the other clubs had a lack of interest in the Russian winger were flaws in his defensive-zone coverage. Also, he needed to improve his play without the puck. To top all of that, his inability to stay healthy became a big part of the problem.

As a result, he was skipped from being selected to play at 2018 IIHF World Hockey Championship for the Team Russia.

Not the first one

With his imminent departure, Slepyshev becomes the third Russian player, drafted by the Oilers in the past five years. And the same third one who was convinced to give North America a shot but eventually returned to his domestic league. the similar script applies to Bogdan Yakimov and Ziyat Paigin. Of the trio, Slepyshev showed the most NHL-compatible skill set but things just never did come together.

 

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