Centre Brock Trotter is reportedly on his way to Latvia to play for Dynamo Riga of the Kontinental Hockey League ona 250-thousand dollar contract. We use the word “reportedly” advisedly because there has been no confirmation from Dynamo Riga or the Canadiens or, for that matter, Trotter himself. The fact there has also been no denial would lead one to believe the rumour is probably true.
At the same time, the highly talented and touted right wing Alexander Avtsin, who played last season with Moscow Dynamo and was under contract to them for the coming season was released and will be joining the Canadiens in training camp in September.
They come and they go.
Trotter was, or is, a restricted free agent. The Canadiens made a qualifying contract offer before July first, which allows them to retain his North American rights. If, in fact, he is headed for Latvia, on a one-year 250-thousand dollar contract, he has taken himself out of the running for an NHL contract at a minimum of 565-thousand dollars. Many think Trotter, who played in two games with the Canadiens last season, still isn’t quite defensively ready to play in the NHL.
The Canadiens signed Trotter as a free agent midway through the 2007-2008 season after he was suspended by Denver University for undisclosed reasons. His progress has been steady with his production doubling from 18 goals two seasons ago to 36 goals last year when he played on a line centered by David Desharnais.
As for Avtsin, the Canadiens drafted him in the fourth round of the 2009 draft, 109th overall, after he scored 56 goals and 110 points for the Moscow Dynamo junior team two years ago. After attending that year’s Canadiens development camp, Avtsin stated that he could see no benefit in coming to North American to play junior hockey and elected to remain in Moscow where he became part of the Moscow Dynamo-KHL team. At the beginning of the year he saw little ice time but Dynamo fired their head coach early in the season and the successor, for National Team forward Andrei Khomutov, started to use him regularly on the team’s fourth line. He wound up with 3 goals and 6 assists in 30 games before suffering a season-ending broken wrist. He had made it clear as early as May that he intended to join the Canadiens for the coming season and signed a three year contract with them on July 15th after Dynamo gave him his release. He’ll be ticketed for Hamilton this season.
The scouting report on Avtsin is remarkable. At 19 years of age, he is 6’2” and 200 lbs. Avtsin is said to be a hard worker with speed, great hands and technique and possesses a great scoring touch, witness the 56 goals he scored at the age of 17 in junior hockey. The job in Hamilton will be to refine those skills to the NHL level.