The Chicago Blackhawks have already added one big-name Russian player to their roster this year, but on Wednesday they added another one as Viktor Tikhonov signed a one-year contract with the team.
The deal was rumored to be close, according to several reporters, and Scott Powers of ESPN Chicago was the first to break the story that the deal has been agreed upon. The team confirmed the contract on Wednesday afternoon.
According to Elliotte Friedman from Hockey Night in Canada, the Blackhawks will pay Tikhonov $1.04 million next season.
Tikhonov, who was a first round draft pick of the Phoenix Coyotes in the 2008 NHL Draft, has spent the last four seasons with St. Petersburg in the KHL. Over that time, he has scored 55 goals and dished out 60 assists in 182 games in the Russian league.
One of the biggest enticements to Tikhonov in joining the Hawks is the opportunity to play on the same roster as Artemi Panarin. Here is what Tikhonov had to say about the young star at the World Junior Championships earlier this year:
"They should be (excited). I think honestly, he's probably the most talented kid in the KHL. He's got hands, he's got speed, he's got a shot. He can [make plays]. I know there are a lot of players there that will appreciate his style."
Tikhonov joins a crowded competition for playing time among forwards with the Blackhawks, as prospects like Mark McNeill and Ryan Hartman will have to battle with guys like Tikhonov, Artemi Panarin and Jeremy Morin next season.