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Contract For Avalanche Goaltending Prospect Terminated In Belarus; Where Will He Play?

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Colorado Avalanche goaltending prospect Ivan Zhigalov seemed so happy with his choice to head back overseas a few months back. The Avalanche were happy with his decision as well.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t look like it will be happening anymore.

Less than two months after signing with Yunost Minsk in the Belarusian Extraleague, Zhigalov and the team have parted ways. Both parties agreed to terminate his contract yesterday.

“Thank you for your work and wish you success in your future career,” the press release from the team said.

That’s not all, though.

The head coach for Yunost Minsk, Viktor Kostyuchenok, had a little more to say.

“Ivan wanted to be number one, but he couldn’t stand the competition. For his development, he decided to return to North America. Will go there. Where specifically? No idea,” he said.

The team retained his rights in the Extraleague, just in case he does return.

When I talked to Zhigalov at the Development Camp for the Avalanche back in July, he was excited about the opportunity to play overseas and in a professional league.

“It’s going to be a big step for me, to go from juniors to a pro league,” he said. “It’s going to be my hometown, so it might be easier for me, and it’s going to be a new start for me, just to get better and just excited about that year.”

The Avalanche seemed happy about the choice as well.

“He’s got a net over there, so that’s a good spot for development for him, with men,” Avalanche Director of Player Development Brian Willsie said.

But things changed, and very quickly. Now, it appears Zhigalov is looking to return to North America. That might be difficult to do this late in the year, as most teams already have their rosters lined up for next season. The 20 year old goaltender spent last year in the OHL with the Kingston Frontenacs.

At the moment, he’s in limbo. The Avalanche could sign him, but they don’t exactly have a ton of room for goaltenders in their pro system either. It’s a difficult situation overall.

We’ll keep a close eye on Zhigalov and where he ends up next season. The Avalanche hold his exclusive rights until June 1, 2024.

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