When Andrei Mironov inked his two-year, entry-level deal with the Colorado Avalanche on May 12, it marked the first time that he would be preparing to play for a non-Russian team.
Since he was 5 years old, Mironov had competed for the Dynamo Moscow organization, beginning with its youth clubs and up through its professional squad in the Kontinental Hockey League. He was on its Minor Hockey League team, HC MVD Balashikha, in the 2011-12 season after he was drafted in the fourth round, 103rd overall, in the 2011 KHL Junior Draft.
He then made the jump to the professional game the following season and helped Dynamo Moscow win the Gagarin Cup. He appeared in an impressive 40 games as a rookie and tallied five assists in the regular season before adding another helper in the playoffs en route to the club becoming league champions.
Mironov registered his first goal in his second KHL campaign, notching the milestone marker against Salavat Yulaev Ufa on Sept. 20, 2013. He saw action in 46 contests and tallied 10 points (three goals and seven assists) that season, but he really made a name for himself the following year.
The Moscow native was named to his first KHL All-Star Game in 2014-15 and finished the year by playing in a career-high 52 games while scoring five goals and adding three assists.
Over the course of his five seasons in the KHL, he recorded 40 points (12 goals, 28 assists) in 196 regular-season contests and played in 54 postseason matches, where he registered 10 points (two goals, eight assists).
The KHL is known for having a very physical style of play, and Mironov is no different. He said that is what sets him up for success.
"[I'm] a defensive defenseman. [I like] a very physical game, hip checking and stuff," he said to ColoradoAvalanche.com through the translation of his agent, Dan Milstein, while attending the 2017 NHL Draft in Chicago on June 24.
The Avs picked Mironov in the 2015 NHL Draft at No. 101 overall in the fourth round, but he chose to continue to develop his skills in his home country for the following two years. Once he officially signed with Colorado this year, he made his way to Denver for the annual Avalanche Development Camp.
"I am forever grateful [to Dynamo] for giving the opportunity [to me] and developing me into the player [I am], and I'm super excited to take on the next challenge in Denver and Colorado," he said.
At the development camp that was held at the end of June at Colorado's practice facility, Mironov took the opportunity to learn new skills and take in knowledge from the team's staff, including development consultant and Avs legend Adam Foote, who gave him things to work on to make him a stronger defenseman.
"I tried to learn something from each coach and put it all together in my game," Mironov said during the development camp via a translation from fellow prospect Denis Smirnov. "It was a great experience. I never did some of that stuff in Russia, so it was interesting to learn."
As for adjusting to and speaking the English language, that might take time, but he has been working hard to grasp the dialect. He was proud to show off his talent when asked if he had improved any during development camp.
"Yes, of course," he said in English, nonchalantly.
The bright lights of the NHL shouldn't faze Mironov as he's played in plenty of big games, including on the international stage.
He has twice suited up for Russia at the annual IIHF World Championship, with him making his Worlds debut in 2015. He registered one assist in eight matches while helping his team to a silver medal that year.
Mironov was on the Russian squad at this past year's World Championship and recorded a goal en route to the team winning a bronze medal.
As a junior player, he also competed at the 2012 IIHF U18 World Championship and at both the 2013 and 2014 World Junior Championships. Mironov served as an alternate captain at the 2014 tournament and put up four points (one goal, three assists) in seven contests. In 2013, he posted two points (one goal, one assist) in seven games. He earned bronze medals at both World Juniors.
As a proven player on the rise, Mironov now sets his sights to the North American game this season. After spending a little time in Denver training this summer, Mironov is back in Russia to finish his offseason workouts. He is set to return for Avalanche training camp in September and compete for an opening night spot.