If you’ve been following the travels of Colorado Avalanche prospect Ivan Zhigalov, you’d know he’s had an interesting summer.
The 7th round draft pick from the 2022 draft played in the Ontario Hockey League last season, backstopping a poor Kingston team. He could have returned for his overage year, but a lot of OHL teams don’t necessarily want to use a European for that spot, as they’re only allowed three overage spots and two Europeans.
With that in mind, Zhigalov signed in his home country of Belarus. He was very excited about the move when we spoke to him back at Development Camp, but it didn’t last long. Three weeks ago, his contract in Belarus was terminated. When asked why, his coach was pretty blunt about the entire situation.
“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.
He is indeed returning to North America. According to Brock Otten, who does a terrific job covering the OHL, Zhigalov is headed to the USHL.
Looks like Colorado Avalanche prospect Ivan Zhigalov has found a spot on the Tri-City Storm (USHL) for this year after his Belarusian pro contract fell through.
— Brock Otten (@BrockOtten) September 9, 2023
The USHL is a step down from both a pro league in Belarus and the OHL, but at least he’s found a net. Zhigalov is playing for an NHL contract at this point. The Avalanche hold his rights until June 1, 2024, but it would have been impossible for him to earn a deal if he wasn’t even playing, so at least he got that figured out.
Zhigalov will be one of the goaltenders at the Rookie Tournament next week, so he’ll be one to keep an eye.