Russian goalie Fedotov looking forward to starting Flyers career

Ivan Fedotov

      VOORHEES, N.J. – Christmas arrived about nine months early for the Flyers on Friday.

      When prized Russian goaltender Ivan Fedotov showed up at the Flyers Training Center for an introductory press conference to announce he was finally joining the team after years of waiting, general manager Daniel Briere and presumably the rest of the team were all smiles.

      The team selected the Finnish-born Fedotov in the seventh round (188th overall) way back in the 2015 NHL Draft and no one really made a big deal of it at the time.

      Since then, however, the 6-foot-7, 208-pound netminder has been steadily improving, most recently with CSKA Moscow of the Kontinental Hockey League in Russia.

      Fedotov, 27, might have been here a year or two sooner but ran into problems with Russia’s military officials.

      On May 7, 2022, Fedotov was signed to a one-year, entry-level contract with the Flyers for the 2022–23 season. While in preparation to depart for North America, on July 1, Fedotov was arrested for alleged evasion of military service and sent to Severomorsk, which prevented him from joining the Flyers.

      Fedotov, who helped CSKA Moscow win its second Gagarin Cup championship in 2021-22, would miss the entirety of the season to fulfill his military service requirements.

      All that’s behind him now. Moscow CSKA terminated his contract on Thursday. Now he’s ready to do big things with the Flyers and could be in NHL action as early as Monday against the New York Islanders.

      “It’s been a long time,” Briere said. “We were always hopeful that he would come. It’s been a long road. I give him a lot of props for him to keep pushing. Finally he has the chance to come. Hopefully it’s a new chapter for him. He gets to start his NHL career and get off on the right foot.”

      This isn’t Fedotov’s first time in the Philadelphia area. He attended two Flyers’ development camps, the first in 2015 and the second in 2018.

      He indicated this was a long journey but one which should have a happy ending.

      “I was here a long time ago,” he told reporters. “I’m so excited and happy to be here. It’s a great feeling. I want to help the team try for the playoffs and be one of the best teams in them.

      “And I want to say thanks a lot to the organization, they supported me. My career is starting here so I hope it’s a long road together.”

      Most of his career has been spent playing on Olympic-sized rinks. There might be an adjustment to the NHL ice surface and that’s where conversing with older, NHL Russian-born goalies comes into play.

      “Don’t think too much,” is one piece of advice he’s heard. “Over here it’s faster but that’s good for me, I like it when the game is fast. We’ll see.”

      If/when Fedotov sees action with the Flyers, he understands just how important these last eight games are.

      “I know,” he said. “It’s very important games for the organization. And for me too. If the coach gives me a chance to play, I will play for sure.”

      It hasn’t been that long since Fedotov was at the top of his game.

      In the 2021–22 season, while playing with the perennially contending CSKA, Fedotov assumed the starting goaltender role and appeared in 26 games with a 14–10–2 record and a 2.00 GAA and .919 save percentage.

       He collected 16 wins through 22 games in the post-season in helping CSKA claim its second Gagarin Cup in franchise history. He was named as a finalist for the KHL’s top goaltender of the year.

     On July 31, 2023, the NHL and the Flyers contested the KHL’s decision to register his contract, and formally submitted a request to the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) that his contract with the Flyers be extended to the following year.

      Now it looks like the story will, indeed, have a happy ending.

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About Wayne Fish 2472 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.