Kirlll Marchenko might be the most interesting Blue Jackets draft pick playing worldwide right now.
The second-round selection, No. 39 overall, in the 2018 NHL draft has always had eye-catching offensive talent. Now, he's starting to make a name for himself at the KHL level in his native country.
After proving just about everything he had to prove in Russia's second-highest level to start the season, he was promoted to the big club, Russian power SKA St. Petersburg, but playing time was hard to come by.
But the 19-year-old is starting to get his opportunity with SKA and he's getting it the old-fashioned way -- by earning it.
Marchenko two goals and a shootout tally in his last four games, including an overtime winner Friday in a victory against Kunlun Red Star.
That came after his first career KHL goal -- well, after the shootout winner, which doesn't go down as an official goal -- on Wednesday in a victory over Amur Khabarovsk.
Suddenly, Marchenko's scoring prowess is earning him more time on the ice. Before his shootout winner Nov. 3 vs. Dinamo Riga, the most ice time he had seen in a game was 3:58. In three games last week, Marchenko played 5:36, 10:21 and then 13:54 on Sunday vs. Admiral Vladivostok. He was also named the league's rookie of the week for the past week.
Marchenko played on Russia's World Juniors squad a season ago and was lighting up the second division before his promotion to the big club, posting nine goals in 14 games with SKA-Neva.
The other Blue Jackets draft pick in the KHL, 2019 fourth-round pick Dmitri Voronkov, has a 1-2-3 line in 14 games while averaging 7:28 of ice time per game. The 19-year-old's team, Ak Bars Kazan, currently leads the Kharlamov Division of the KHL with 21 wins in 27 games.
Angle plays on big stage: 2019 seventh-round pick Tyler Angle has been impressive in his fourth OHL season this year, as the 19-year-old has a 12-14-26 line in 18 games to lead the Windsor Spitfires in scoring.
And last Monday, his strong start gave him a chance to join some of the best players in the OHL in international play. Angle suited up in a game for the OHL squad that took on Team Russia in the CIBC Canada/Russia Series that matches up the top junior players in each country. Russia moves east to west across Canada, playing two games apiece against stars from the QMJHL, OHL and finally the WHL.
"My whole life I've just been proving people wrong and I haven't really been invited to any Hockey Canada things and now when it comes to one of the most important stages to get the invite was pretty huge," he told Windsor's AM820 CKLW.
Angle finished with just one shot on goal and no points in what was a 3-2 shootout win for Russia. Still, it was a great honor to get the chance to play against some of the top players in the world.
Monsters on losing streak: After a hot 8-3-0-1 start, the Cleveland Monsters have hit a skid.
The AHL affiliate of the Blue Jackets has now lost five straight after three games without a win over the past week.
Things started off Tuesday with a home game against Grand Rapids, but the visitors left with a 4-2 victory. Nathan Gerbe and Zac Dalpe each scored against Calvin Pickard and Marko Dano had two assists, while Veini Vehvilainen made 19 saves in the contest, but the Griffins scored the winning goal in the final minute.
The team then hit the road for a pair of contests in upstate New York over the weekend. Friday night, it came down to overtime, but Andrew Oglevie bested Matiss Kivlenieks less than a minute into the extra frame to give Rochester a 3-2 victory over the Monsters. Dalpe and Ryan MacInnis tallied while Dano kept his point streak going with another helper, while Kivlenieks stopped 20 shots.
The Monsters got on the Thruway and headed to Syracuse, and on Saturday night the Crunch came back from a pair of 4-2 deficits to earn the victory. Defensemen Andrew Peeke and Adam Clendening each scored their third goals of the year to give Cleveland the lead in the first, but the Crunch got two past Vehvilainen in the second and then scored an empty-netter to salt the win. Vehvilainen made 22 saves.
The Monsters are now 8-7-1-1, which puts them in sixth place in the eight-team North Division through 17 games. Gerbe continues to lead the team with 13 points, while Dalpe has 11 and Peeke 10. Dalpe's seven goals lead the way with Stefan Matteau at five and Gerbe at four. Vehvilainen still boasts sterling stats with a 2.28 GAA and .918 save percentage despite his 3-5-0 record, while Kivlenieks is 5-1-2 with a 2.45 GAA and .904 save percentage.
Cleveland now returns home for games at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on Thursday and Friday vs. visiting Chicago. The Monsters' game will be televised on SportsTime Ohio on Friday night.