Who is Marat Khusnutdinov?

Marat Khusnutdinov plays in the KHL
Creator: Kuzmin Yury, Kuzmin Yury | Credit: KHL Copyright: KHL-Marketing

The name Marat Khusnutdinov has been bandied about the Minnesota Wild space over the past week, and it is a very good thing. His season with HC Sochi in Russia finished this past weekend, and because his team didn’t make the KHL playoffs, he is ready to come over to Minnesota. The only problem is that his contract technically runs through April 30th, so the Wild are doing all they can to get him released and onto American soil ASAP. But who is this young Russian player, and what can he do for the Wild? Here’s a quick rundown on the 21-year-old Khusnutdinov.

Khusnutdinov and the Minnesota Wild

The Wild picked Khusnutdinov 37th overall in the second round of the 2020 NHL Draft. While many teams are still leery when it comes to drafting Russian players, especially in the higher rounds, the Wild didn’t have the same qualms. After the success of Kirill Kaprizov, who was worth the long and uncertain wait, the Wild have learned that taking a chance on a Russian player can have a great upside. Thankfully, the wait for Khusnutdinov isn’t as long as the Wild waited for Kaprizov.

Khusnutdinov played for SKA Saint Petersburg in the KHL for two full seasons before being traded partway through this past season. When he was traded to one of the worst teams in the league, HC Sochi, it dramatically shifted his season. With Saint Petersburg, Khusnutdinov was frequently a healthy scratch or given way too little ice time each game. The KHL is notorious for making things hard for any player who signals that they aren’t planning to re-sign in Russia. In Sochi, his time on ice dramatically increased, even if his production decreased. In 49 games in Sochi, he had 20 points (6 goals and 14 assists).

Khusnutdinov’s Style

He is a versatile player, able to play both center and wing. That is good news for Wild fans, who have long struggled along with the club with its shallow depth at center. Khusnutdinov is similar to Kaprizov as a fellow undersized forward who doesn’t shy away from physical play. While he can create offense, he is also responsible defensively. He’s speedy and has good hands, which pairs well with his good hockey sense. Khusnutdinov is already a great player, and his young age gives him even more room to improve.

So What’s the Plan?

As pointed out above, it can be extraordinarily difficult to get Russian players over to America and into the NHL. It is a safe assumption that the Wild organization has been hard at work to figure out the logistics to get Khusnutdinov stateside. An ace in their pocket has been fellow Russian Kaprizov. He’s been in Minnesota for long enough to be able to assist Khusnutdinov with all of the off-ice necessities that he struggled with upon arrival. It will also be nice for Kaprizov to have another Russian in the room, which he’s been without since Dmitry Kulikov left two seasons ago. 

Khusnutdinov will be signing an ELC as he enters the league. If he can sign it before March 8th, the trade deadline, he would be able to play with Minnesota in any playoff run they’re able to make. But even if he signs past that date, it would allow Khusnutdinov to get his work visa and start integrating himself with the team. It would burn the first year of his ELC contract, but it would be a good thing in the long run. He would be able to get some NHL games under his belt, even if he wasn’t able to play in the playoffs.

For more Minnesota Wild news and vibes, listen to Her Wild Side Hockey Podcast.

A Post-Mortem for the MN Wild Season Her Wild Side Hockey Podcast

In this episode, Mikki performs an autopsy of the 2023-24 season for the Minnesota Wild. She also touches on how a fresh start will be good for the Wild next season and the two brackets that she put together for the NHL playoffs this year.Links:Her Wild Side Merch Shop!Ticketmaster Affiliate LinkSocial Media:TwitterInstagramFacebookFor more from us, visit Inside The RinkHow to support us and our sponsors:Columbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITR  
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