Ontario Hockey League grad Alexei Semenov has been traded from SKA St. Petersburg in the KHL to Vityaz Podolsk. For Semenov, it’s his first change of scenery since joining St. Petersburg in 2010-11. Alexei joins fellow OHL alumnus Robert Kousal on the team. Kousal joined Podolsk midway through the 2013-14 season. Once the ‘Bad News Bears’ of the KHL, Podolsk is attempting to reach the post season for the first time since the KHL was formed in 2008-09.
Semenov played three years in the OHL from 1998-99 to 2000-01 with the Sudbury Wolves. Sudbury selected Alexei 23rd overall at the 1998 CHL Import Draft. In his final season with the Wolves, Semenov scored 21 and assisted on 42 for 63 points from the blue line over 65 regular season games. He also added 17 points over 12 playoff games as the Wolves were bounced in the Eastern Conference semi-finals by the Toronto Majors in seven games.
Alexei was awarded the Max Kaminsky Trophy in 2000-01 as the OHL’s top defenseman. He was a First Team All-Star in the OHL and a Third Team All-Star in the CHL.
The Edmonton Oilers took Semenov in the second round of the 1999 NHL Entry Draft, 36th overall. His first pro action came at the end of the 1999-00 season when he played three Calder Cup playoff games in the American Hockey League for the Hamilton Bulldogs.
Semenov has played full-time pro hockey since 2001-02 in the AHL, NHL and KHL. In the National Hockey League, Alexei played 211 regular season games between 2002-03 and 2008-09 with the Oilers, Florida Panthers and San Jose Sharks. He totalled 33 points over that time.
Alexei has been in the KHL since 2009-10 and had played with SKA St. Petersburg since 2010-11. He was traded to Vityaz Podolsk after starting the season with seven games for SKA.
Kousal played one season in the Ontario Hockey League, 2008-09, with the Oshawa Generals. He was the 34th overall pick at the 2008 CHL Import Draft. In his only season, Robert scored eight and assisted on 14 for 22 points over 62 regular season games.
Undrafted to the NHL, Kousal returned home to the Czech Republic. In 2010, he played for his home country at the IIHF World Juniors. Robert played in the Czech Republic’s Extraliga until midway through 2013-14. He started last year with HC Pardubice but after 32 games moved to Podolsk and finished the year with 16 games in the KHL.
Known as Vityaz Chekhov until the 2013-14 season, Podolsk has yet to reach the post season in the KHL. However, this year, the team currently sits in ninth spot in the 14 team West Conference, one point out of a playoff spot with games in hand. Leading the club is team captain and former NHLer Maxim Afinogenov.
The team was once the equivalent of the Broad Street Bullies but without the winning. This year, there is not a single player from the club in the top 20 for penalty minutes. Interestingly, the league is led in PIM by Alexander Radulov. Radulov, playing for CSKA Moscow, is also the league’s point leader at the moment.
Vityaz play home games at LD Vityaz in Podolsk, Russia, a 5,500 seat venue that opened in 2000. Podolsk is a city of around 200,000 on the outskirts of Moscow.