In October 2014, Jewels From The Crown named Nikolai Prokhorkin as the #7 prospect for the LA Kings’ Top 25 Under 25, stating that he “is the best prospect in the KHL right now,” which begged the question, “Will we ever see him play?”
It took five more years, but with Prokhorkin signing his one-year entry-level contract, we just might see him next season in black and white filling a much-need centerman role somewhere on the second or third lines. His one-year contract means that he will be an RFA in the summer of 2020, making it essentially a contract year for the soon-to-be 26-year-old Russian as he looks to prove he is worthy of a multi-year extension.
HOCKEY CARD STATS
Born: September 17, 1993 (Age 25)
Place of Birth: Chelyabinsk, Russia
2018-19 Team: SKA St. Petersburg (KHL)
Weight: 201 lbs.
Prokhorkin was the Kings 2012 fourth round pick, signing a three-year entry-level contract. He was assigned to Manchester Monarchs (AHL) in 2012 and played only eight games due to a contractual conflict with CSKA Moscow. The Kings former administration played hardball when his KHL contracts ended and couldn’t settle the terms of his role and the league he’d be playing in (NHL vs. the AHL).
Also, similar to current 2019 prospect Vasili Podkolzin, Prokhorkin had a deep desire to win a KHL championship in Russia. Prokhorkin had long drifted into the prospect ether until resurfacing after winning the KHL Stanley Cup-equivalent Gargarin Cup in 2017 and reappearing on the Kings 2017 State of the Franchise organizational depth chart.
NIKOLAI PROKHORKIN TODAY
During the last seven seasons, Prokhorkin has honed his skills in the improving KHL, which now rivals or exceeds the AHL as the second best hockey league in the world. In 2018-19, he was one of only five players to average a point a game in the defensive-leaning KHL (20G, 21A in 41 games). He fits the modern NHL’s pre-requisite 200-foot playing style (evidenced by his plus 27) while flashing surprising physicality from a Russian player. His net-front play creates extreme nuisance for opponents [think Dustin Brown] and his high hockey IQ compliments a polished skill set.
With the Kings in
Rebuilding Reset Mode, his signing could certainly solve some of the offense woes, while giving Ilya Kovalchuk a center he is familiar with and is said to have good chemistry. It doesn’t seem to be a coincidence that Prokhorkin is set to return to the NHL just after Todd McLellan signed on last month. McLellan is known to place high trust in his Russian wingers (think Pavel Datsyuk) and recent conversations with Kovalchuk’s renewed vigor for the 2019-20 season.
But as quickly as the questions are answered, more sprout up. Prokhorkin definitely brought the offense in the KHL, but can he consistently produce at the NHL next season?
He’s got the moves:
Did we mention he could scrap?
THE OFFICIAL KINGS PRESS RELEASE:
LOS ANGELES… The Los Angeles Kings have signed forward Nikolai Prokhorkin to a one-year entry-level contract, Kings Vice President and General Manager Rob Blake announced today.
The 25-year-old Prokhorkin (born on Sept. 17, 1993) is a 6-2, 201-pound native of Chelyabinsk, Russia, who appeared in 41 regular-season games this season with SKA St. Petersburg (KHL), posting 41 points (20-21=41), a plus-27 rating and 10 penalty minutes. He helped lead SKA to the Western Conference Final, before falling in Game 7 to the top-seed and eventual champion CSKA Moscow. He appeared in 11 postseason games, posting six points (2-4=6) and four penalty minutes.
Selected by the Kings in the fourth round (121st overall) during the 2012 NHL Draft, Prokhorkin has appeared 314 career regular-season KHL games, recording 186 points (92-94=186), a plus-106 rating and 248 penalty minutes. In 71 postseason games he has registered 30 points (12-18=30) and 58 penalty minutes.
He won the 2017 Gagarin Cup (KHL Championship) with SKA St. Petersburg, playing alongside current King Ilya Kovalchuk. Internationally, Prokhorkin won a gold medal in the 2018 Olympics with Russia.