By now, you’ve probably seen the following video of Shirokov stickhandling his way around Canucks Prospects Camp:
Amidst all the Cody Hodgson hype, it’s nice to see someone else step up and steal the spotlight. By all reports, Shirokov has been one of the best players – if not the best player – in camp. He’s older than most of the kids there and his three years of pro experience in Russia is obvious. He’s got good hands and a good attitude.
Shirokov was more than OK. His patience, skill and vision with the puck were obvious as the left winger set up a pair of goals and numerous other scoring chances in the Vancouver Canuck prospects’ 4-3 victory against the University of Alberta Golden Bears.
And since Shirokov’s initial foray into the Canadian hockey heartland didn’t curb his enthusiasm for his remarkable decision to join the Canucks, nothing will.
Having fought fabled Central Red Army in arbitration to win his release from the Kontinental Hockey League, then signing a two-way, entry-level National Hockey League contract with the Canucks that will pay Shirokov just $65,000 if he spends his rookie season in the minors, the Russian made his North American debut in front of a few hundred fans at a university arena while playing against student-athletes.
“It’s OK,” he smiled. “I go on ice, Vancouver Canucks jersey. I’m happy.
“KHL is good money. But play at NHL is better. Better level. I want to play in Vancouver. Russia, it’s big money. But NHL is better league. I say to coach: I have to go NHL. I go.”
Few expect Shirokov to actually make the Canucks this season, though based on (very) early reviews, he’s determined to make it tough for team brass to make that decision.