Blue Jackets recall top prospect Yegor Chinakhov
The Columbus Blue Jackets are off to a hot start this season. The team, which faces few expectations this season, has opened the season with an 8-2 drubbing of the Arizona Coyotes and a hard-fought 2-1 win over the Seattle Kraken. Oliver Bjorkstrand and Max Domi are currently among the top-10 scorers in the league, and Elvis Merzlikins is 2-0 with a .948 save percentage and 1.47 goals-against average. Now, they’re about to get even better.
The Blue Jackets have announced Sunday morning that top prospect Yegor Chinakhov has been recalled from the AHL and after just one game. The skilled Russian forward is in his first season in North America after recording 10 goals and 17 points in 32 games in his first full KHL season in 2020-21, followed up by five goals and seven points in 21 playoff games en route to a Gagarin Cup title. He was right back at it in his AHL debut, scoring a goal for the Cleveland Monsters in an opening night win. The Blue Jackets have apparently seen enough to try the young forward out at the NHL level and it would not be a surprise to see the dynamic young talent stick on a Columbus roster that is trying to rebuild while staying relevant.
Chinakhov, 20, is already a remarkable story and a testament to Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen and his scouting staff, so it would not be a surprise to see him continue to find success. The No. 21 overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, Chinakhov was a much-maligned selection as a relatively unheralded overage prospect. Considered the biggest surprise of the first round, Chinakhov’s name first gained attention for the wrong reasons. He quickly changed the narrative last season, earning a full-time role with the KHL’s Avangard Omsk and not only taking home a championship, but also Rookie of the Year honors with top numbers across the board for under-20 players. Now he is not only a pro in North America in just his second season after being drafted, but preparing for his NHL debut. The perception of Chinakhov has changed dramatically, but he is still playing with a chip on his shoulder and ready to reward Columbus for their faith in him, hopefully for years to come for a franchise that desperately needs loyal, homegrown talent.