FAN FARE: MIKHAIL PASHNIN

New York RBY: Adam Gavriel

Let’s start with the simple understanding that when depending upon Google translating an article from Russian to English there could be some slight nuances, and maybe even who phrases not exactly written as they were meant to be.

Given that ground rule, according to cska-hockey.ru New York Rangers defensive prospect Mikhail Pashnin was selected by Lokomotiv, yes that Lokomotiv, after the KHL agreed to a makeshift expansion draft in order to rebuild that devastated organization. Remember, this is the Lokomotiv club that was struck by tragedy earlier in the season when the charter plane carrying their team crashed. The plan had been for the 6’, 187-pounder from Chelyabinsk, Russia to play for in North America, either with the Connecticut Whale or the Rangers themselves in the upcoming 2012- 2013 campaign, however it would certainly appear as though that might change now. Pashnin will finish the current season with CSKA Moscow. The soon to be 23 year old has three goals and three assists for six points and sixty PIM in 46 games this season.

Pashnin is not currently under contract by the Rangers so it is highly likely that Pashnin will spend at least next year in Russia. The Rangers’ seventh round pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft (#200 overall) opened eyes in training camp two years ago, especially Team President and General Manager Glen Sather who, during the 2010 training camp, said, “He reminds me of some other aggressive players that have come over here like (Darius) Kasparaitis.” Sather then went on to add that, “Every guy in mini-camp skated around with his head up when (Pashnin) was on the ice. He’s going to be a real good player. Plus, he has a real enthusiasm for the game, as well, with so much spirit and spunk.”

That’s high praise indeed coming from a Hill-of-Fame judge of talent and the architect of the current Rangers’ squad that is competing for the President’s Trophy in 2011-2012.

With one year remaining on the two-year deal he signed in Russia with CSKA this past off-season, expect Sather to be on the phone with Pashnin’s agent about where he stands in terms of coming to North America. Initially Pashnin balked at the contract the Rangers this offered stating that he did not want to sign a two-way deal so he took the bigger payday from CSKA.

Since defensive depth is perhaps the biggest organizational strength right now for the Rangers, Pashnin may have actually gotten more development at this point in the situation that he finds himself in. Though given J.J. Daigneault’s track record of developing the top defensemen in the Rangers’ organization it’s hard to say for sure whether or not he’d be better off where he is or over here learning the Rangers’ system, but he’s certainly not hurting his chances by spending next year in Russia as well.

The depth in defense within the Rangers organization may hinder Pashnin getting an opportunity in New York any time soon. The Blueshirts seem set on the blueline with Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal, Michael Del Zotto, Michael Sauer, Steve Eminger, Jeff Woywitka, Stu Bickel, and Anton Stralman. Add the glut of defenseman in the AHL with veterans Brendan Bell, and Wade Redden, as well as developing prospects Pavel Valentenko, Tim Erixon, Jared Nightingale, Blake Parlett and others down under former Rangers’ GM Neil Smith’s eye with the ECHL’s Greenville Road Warriors. There’s also going to be turn over within the system after each season, and of course you never know what might change with the trade deadline approaching, but you have to believe the Rangers will look to retain the majority of their prospects.

Don’t forget that the Rangers should also have first round pick Dylan McIlrath, who’ll turn 20 in April, as someone who will compete for a roster spot in New York and if not there, then certainly with the Whale in the AHL next season, Pashnin might be better off to stay put and play in Russia.

Next season will likely be a pivotal time for a guy like Pashnin whether he comes here or stays in Russia to go through the emotional challenge that would wait for him with Lokomotiv.

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