LAS VEGAS - Center Vadim Shipachyov was signed to a two-year contract with an average annual value of $4.5 million on Thursday by the Vegas Golden Knights and general manager George McPhee said the move was made in part because of the likelihood of a lack of scoring forwards being available in the NHL Expansion Draft.
"He's a skilled centericeman and they are very hard to find," McPhee said Friday. "There were a lot of NHL teams involved. We made our best pitch."
Shipachyov, 30, was third in scoring in the Kontinental Hockey League this season with 76 points (26 goals, 50 assists) in 50 games. He had 19 points (four goals, 15 assists) in 17 playoff games to help SKA St. Petersburg win the league title for the second time in three years. He spent the past nine seasons in the KHL.
Vegas, which will begin play next season, will have its draft selections announced June 21 during the NHL Awards show at T-Mobile Arena, home of the Golden Knights.
"This is a player who is ready to play in the NHL," said McPhee, who called Shipachyov a top-six forward who can help the power play. "It'll be a quick adjustment, but it's time for him to come play in this league. And we're delighted that he picked us."
Shipachyov is the second signing by Vegas, joining 21-year-old forward Reid Duke, who signed on March 6.
McPhee confirmed Vegas has been in talks with Shipachyov's teammate in St. Petersburg, forward Evgeny Dadonov, who had 66 points (30 goals, 36 assists) in 53 games this season and 19 points (nine goals, 10 assists) in 18 games in the playoffs.
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"I think it's logical for people to assume that [Dadonov] might want to come here because his teammate and friend is here," McPhee said. "But we, the Vegas Golden Knights, have a lot to work through with other teams and players for the expansion draft before we can think about adding another big contract."
Shipachyov is currently playing for Russia in the 2017 IIHF World Championship. Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant is an assistant for Canada in the tournament.
McPhee said the contract doesn't include a no-movement clause, and although he didn't guarantee ice time, he expects the 6-foot-1, 190-pound forward to play a key role immediately.
"He's prepared to play a lot and sees it as an opportunity for lots of ice time," McPhee said. "I've known his agent for a long time and there is trust between us."
McPhee also said he's not necessarily looking to select well-known players in the draft, but rather players who can best help the team.
"It's not about names for me, it's about talent and chemistry and guts and skill and grit and all those things," McPhee said. "I'm not necessarily looking for a face of the franchise. The face of the franchise will be our logo."
McPhee said Vegas likely will share an American Hockey League affiliate with another NHL team next season, but a decision is still a few weeks away.