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KHL's best goalie appears to be headed to the NHL

Tim Tucker   ·   12 janvier 2020
Timur Bilyalov, goaltender for the KHL's Ak Bars Kazan, appears to be looking at NHL teams for next season. The 24-year-old, who leads the Russian league in goals against average and shutouts this season, while also second in save percentage with a fantastic .953, will not be signing an extension with his current team. That's according to reporters covering hockey in that region.



The Toronto Maple Leafs were said to be interested in Bilyalov's services as far back as December. However, Aivis Kalnins, who covers the KHL and European hockey for HockeyBuzz.com, states at least three other teams are inquiring about what it would take to get Bilyalov to join their teams. He does not state which ones. The interest shouldn't come as a surprise as Bilyalov has posted an eye-popping eight shutouts in 21 games played this season. He also snapped a KHL record in November by going 316 minutes and nine seconds without surrendering a goal. While currently sitting second in save percentage, he is just .001 percent behind the leader and has played four more games. His numbers are on another level this season and he's been extremely consistent since breaking into the KHL in 2017-18. Last season he played 38 games for Riga Dynamo, recording a 15-14-3 record, with a GAA of 2.13 and a .930 save percentage.

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The only possible knock against Bilyalov would be his size. At five-foot-10 and 174 pounds, he's smaller than the typical North American goaltender. Despite that, he's been well above average throughout his professional career so far and it's likely most, if not all, of that skill will transfer over.

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Which scenario would you prefer if the NHL season restart?
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