Washington Capitals prospect Ivan Miroshnichenko will make his pro hockey debut on Sunday, and he will do so with the KHL’s Avangard Omsk following a red-hot start to the year with the team’s major-junior affiliate Omskie Yasterby.
Following a battle with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Miroshnichenko returned to play in early November and picked up right where he left off. Through eight games with the MHL team overseas, he has eight goals and three assists. He also got two VHL games with Omskie Krylia and dished three assists. It caught the attention of Hawks head coach Mikhail Kravets, who announced that Miroshnichenko would get a look at the KHL level.
Miroshnichenko was pegged as a top-5 talent going into the 2022 NHL Draft. However, his cancer diagnosis in March led to a drop in draft stock. Still, the Capitals kept in touch with the 18-year-old and, after interviewing him and consulting with doctors and the medical team, drafted him 20th overall in June. Since then, Miroshnichenko has been in remission and has worked to add strength back and get back to skating. And so far, things are looking good, and he could very well end up being the steal of the draft.
“I remember seeing him in the U18 World Championships in Germany; he was there to do another round of chemo,” assistant general manager Ross Mahoney said. “He had no hair, his blue jeans looked like they were just sort of hanging on his hips. Didn’t look good at all, and I talked to him there… he’s a really strong character. He went through an awful lot. But I think it speaks volumes of his character and the type of person he is.”
READ MORE ON WHN: What Washington Capitals Said About Rough 3-2 OT Loss To Seattle Kraken
Alex Ovechkin believes that Miroshnichenko can be a “superstar,” and Evgeny Kuznetsov is also excited to see what Miroshnichenko brings to the table. The two met over the summer when Miroshnichenko came to see the facilities and take in development camp off the ice.
“He sounds like he’s in a perfect way to start playing more and more,” Kuznetsov said. “He deal with a tough thing, and I’m glad that he recovers perfect well.”