It is hard to find a lot of information on the newest member of the Edmonton Oilers, Anton Belov, but this video shows he knows how to score.

Belov turns 27 in July, stands 6’4" and weighs 215 pounds. He’s played in Russia his entire life. He played his first four years of pro hockey with CSKA Moscow, and he’s spent the past five seasons playing for Omsk Avangard in the KHL. He’s coming off his best offensive season, 9 goals and 26 points in 46 games, but prior to that he’d never scored more than 4 goals or 14 points.

I tracked down Dmirty Chesnokov, a Russian reporter who covers the NHL and KHL to get a quick scouting report on Belov.

Gregor: Give me your best scouting report on Anton Belov.

Chesnokov: If I have to describe him in one sentence, I’d say that the past season, and considering it was a lockout season so there were a lot of NHL players in the KHL, he was probably, unofficially the best defenceman in the KHL. This is the best way to describe him. He was one of the brighter spots on the Russian national team at the World Championships. Everybody knows the … performance that team had, but he was one of the players who stood out. The amount of improvement he has shown the past few years along with his e maturity, I think Edmonton has got a great, great player. 

Brownlee: His calling card is moving the puck. How about his defensive play though?

Chesnokov: Yes, this is one of those things that coming out of the KHL, and playing on the bigger ice that is more of the mind set of the Russian defenceman, they’re not really shut down guys. They would venture all over the ice. When you’re talking about young guys like Orlov, Belov or Marchenko that Detroit signed today, yes they are more into puck moving.

They could be a liability in the defensive end, however just like Markov when he came and joined the Habs a couple years ago; he was also one of those guys who wasn’t a shut down guy. Yet, he learned to play a real physical, shut down game in Montreal. I think Belov, especially at twenty-six; he’s old enough to understand what the responsibilities are and what the coaching staff is expecting of him. It’s not about him. It’s not about his offensive abilities. It’s about being a shut down guy and playing defence and playing that smart game. I think he’s smart enough to do that.

*This is Belov in a brief scrap with Alexei Yashin.*

Gregor: Is he a highly competitive guy, who is going to show up and every night? Does he have that component to his game? 

Chesnokov: I think so. He came from an organization, where he learned from guys like Jaromir Jagr. He had the competitive nature around him. But at the same time, it’s still something new. He needs to go through camp. He needs to understand what it’s like to play in North America. It’s very different- the approach, the physical play, because of the smaller ice. But again, I’m fairly confident that he can certainly do that, especially coming to the NHL at such an age, twenty-six, not an eighteen year old kid. So he knows what he needs to do, he’s got the frame, he’s got the body to do it.

Brownlee: I’m curious how this developed and if you could shed some light on it. Even a day or so ago, you and some other people seemed to think he was going to end up in Pittsburgh. How did the Edmonton Oilers, seven years out of the playoffs, land a prospect like this?

Chesnokov: Yes, this is something sort of connecting the dots because the World Championships just ended recently. Somebody who was there said, “Hey did you know MacTavish was there and he was asking a lot of questions about Belov?” Until today, it’s not that I forgot, I remembered it yesterday or something in back of mind that Belov announced he would indeed terminate his KHL contract because he was going to sign in the NHL.

At the same time, his agent is the same agent as Malkin and usually agents tend to work with the same team. Then there was interest from about half a dozen clubs, and because he was undrafted he could pick where he wanted to go.I think the personal visit by the GM of the Oilers in Scandinavia, in Finland and Sweden, sealed the deal for him. By the looks of it, he is really, really excited about coming to the NHL.

He may see it as the last chance because he had a gentleman’s agreement with Omsk, saying that if he gets an offer from the NHL that they will agree to let him go. That is what happened.  They wished him well today after the signing. I think it showed him confidence when the team GM was actually there, scouting him in person, and maybe talking to him, talking to media, and other people around the Russian team about him. So he could have seen it as probably the last chance to be in his prime, to join an NHL team that has so much potential.


  • Belov won’t solve all of the woes of the Oilers blueline, but if can move the puck as well as they say then he’s an upgrade. Right now he’s their best left-shot puck moving D-man, ahead of Nick Schultz and Ladislav Smid. If he is as good as Chesnokov believes, top defender in KHL last season, then he could be a good 2nd pairing defender for the Oilers. With Ryan Whitney not returning there is an open spot on the powerplay for a left shotting D-man, so Belov could see some PP time.
  • TIme will tell if this was good depth move, but based on the UFA market, and Belov’s price tag, one-year entry level deal, this is a good gamble.
  • I had the June 4th as the date someone would write an article stating Linus Omark could/should return to the Oilers. It happened yesterday when Willis penned this at Cult of Hockey. Eventually someone would bring it up, and I agree that Omark has NHL-level skill, I just don’t see why the Oilers would bring him back. They don’t need another small, skilled forward who isn’t great defensively. The only way I see him back in Edmonton is if the Oilers trade away one or two of their skilled forwards. I suspect the Oilers will trade his rights instead of re-signing him.
  • The four remaining teams all have a "Win one for the Gipper" player on their roster. Jarome Iginla in Pittsburgh, Robyn Regehr in LA, Wade Redden in Boston and Michal Handzus in Chicago. Regehr has played 944 regular season games and 54 in the playoffs. Handzus had 944 and 86, Redden is at 1023 and 106 while Iginla’s played the most, 1232 and 65. I don’t buy that players want to win more for Iginla than they would for themselves, but I’m sure we will read about that angle before the Cup Finals start.  If I had to pick one of those four to cheer for, I’d likely root for Redden.
  • The Kings have 21 players who’ve won a Cup. The Bruins have 18, the Penguins 10 and Chicago has 9. If experience means that much, I guess the Kings have the advantage, but I don’t see them winning. I’d love to see a Hawks/Pens final.


  • striatic

    Oilers need to do something with Omark but you have to think that with Rajala’s emergence in OKC that Omark is more expendable than ever.

    the Oilers RW is currently a logjam with Eberle, Yakupov and Hemsky along with Hartikainen and Rajala waiting in the wings.

    Omark adds to the depth at RW .. really the only position with depth on the team.

    still, there are only 3 NHL proven top nine guys and i’d rather see Omark moved than Hemsky, unless Hemsky is being replaced somehow as part of the deal.

  • lucky

    I’d suggest its best to be VERY cautious with expectations. Even as bad as our D group is, its a bit presumptuous to say that a guy with zero NHL experience is ahead of anyone on the depth chart.

    I really hope it works out, and I love the low risk gamble. I just don’t want to sound like Flamer fans last year when they were pumping Cervenka’s tires. He went from “The best player not in the NHL” to “Top line C” to “Second line C” to “Not really a C after-all” to “Acceptable 2nd liner” to “OK depth player” to “Liability” to “Healthy scratch” and then 4 months after arriving was back on a plane to the KHL.

    • Not sure who was suggesting he was ahead of anyone on the depth chart. Gregor said in a puck moving sense he would be ahead of Smid and N Schultz on that side.. which isn’t much of a stretch. I might come close to being ahead of those two in puck moving. Wouldn’t come close to them being an actual NHL defensemen.

  • Czar

    It might not have been pretty but anyone who dishes a couple to Yashin is OK in my books. Thought we’d be singing the praises of Musil for this signing but good on MacT for getting over there and making it happen. Maybe one last visit with Antti Raanta for a signature Craig?

  • vetinari

    Belov is an affordable gamble and less of a risk than what Barker was when he was signed. And the fact that he fights, even if it’s lightweights like Yashin, sell me on him even more. It seems that we’ve accepted that we have to go outside of the NHL to bring in defencemen– J. Shultz last year and now Belov. Hopefully Belov’s offensive upside outweighs his defensive mistakes in his first year.

    As for Omark, I only see him coming back to the organization if Hemsky is traded, otherwise, there really isn’t a spot in the top 9 for him, is there? And I suspect that his rights would only be worth somewhere between a second to a fourth rounder at this point, which sadly, is likely not much different than what the Oilers would likely get for Hemsky.

    As for the Conference finalists, I’ve always liked Chicago– they may not be the best team or the deepest team of the final four but I generally like their style of hockey with a blend of skill and grit and guys blocking shots and getting their hands dirty in the corners. I would love a Chicago-Boston final.

      • vetinari

        Omark for a second rounder is not inconceivable given that he is unsigned and he had a good year overseas… and other teams have paid more to get less over the years… and I couldn’t see Omark getting more than about $1M per season on a one year, two way deal… if he doesn’t work out, demote him to the AHL and pay the lesser AHL contract rate or watch him leave to go back to Europe and suspend his contract in the meantime.

        However, given that everyone knows that Edmonton is a motivated seller when it comes to Omark’s rights, unless you can get a couple of teams in a minor bidding war (Detroit? Tampa? NYI?) , the likely return will be a mid-range pick.

        I hate to say it, but I would place more emphasis in trying to trade Hemsky and then sign Omark to take his place on the roster (subject to any better, grittier players becoming available).

  • Klima's Mullet

    The fact that we have signed an NHL ready, free agent defender two years in a row ahead of other teams makes me happy. This isn’t exactly Lebron taking his talents to South Beach but beleaguered Oiler fans have to feel good about this trend.

    Can we get MacT a cool nickname like MacGregor’s “Magnificent Bastard?”

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Yes! Bold move number one. This is what I’m talking about, a GM that actually does the job and finds other players out there that can make the team better, without costing it young players.

    Now of course this hasn’t panned out yet or anything, but the mere fact Mac T is not just going after Luongo and Webber, or worse waiting for our players to develop, shows that he is committed to actually build a hockey team, instead of just waiting for one to grow.

    I hope this guy comes as billed.

    On another note, it’s also nice to see the Oilers cast off their Russian xenophobia and realize the potential of these players. Draft Nichushkin, sing Antropv to play C. Then role the summit series lines: Nuge, Hall, Ebs, J Schultz.

    Antropov, Nichuskin, Yak, Belov and let them compete it out.

    Now that I think about it, even though Harti is a Fin, the Lander, Paajarvi, Harti, Klefbomb line could also compete in the Oilers mini world championship pool. Which Country will collectively get the most point per total ice time, would make a great nation competition.

    • Reg Dunlop

      Bold move? The oil need 4 NHL defencemen. This project is as much of a solution as Cervenka was in Calgary. If mgmt. relies on ‘finds’ like this to fill holes, we are pooched already.

      • Interesting comparison. I mean, that was a round hole on a red team, where as this is a square hole on a blue team. I guess the pegs are made in the same factory, but that’s about as far as it goes.

        You’re essentially saying, because Roman Cervenka, did not make one of the worst teams in the league better, the Oilers and every other team should stop trying to get top players out of the world’s second best league?

        “Hey everyone, Roman Cervenka didn’t work out so I guess we might as well completely forget about the KHL, doesn’t work guys… Roman Cervenka everybody.”

        You go find me a better L side puck moving defenceman for 1.5 mill. Hell, find me a better one that can be acquired without giving up any of our good players for 2.5 mill. Good luck.

        Like I and Mac T have said, it’s hard to say good job until the player actually comes over. But for now I’m just happy he’s thinking outside the box a little bit.

        • oilman3

          well said. some people find a way to be negative about everything. personally, i got excited when i read that mact being there in person to scout him was likely the difference. there’s really nothing to lose in bringing someone over who has potential to impact the team. it’s way too early to say that these are the only kind of bold moves that will be made, especially since the season hasn’t even ended yet. i really get the impression that mact is going to make every effort to improve the team not to mention the fact that he is actually interesting to listen to in interviews. listening to tambi was uninspiring to say the least.

          • Oh, he’s great in interviews. I like how he’s not a salesman ya know? He even says he’s excited, but it’s hard to call anything a success until you have the results. I also appreciate how when he declines to comment, he doesn’t act like a dick about it, he just gives his professional reasons and moves on.

            Though he did kind of dance around the draft question, which is smart considering he likely doesn’t want to tip his hand. Still, so interesting hearing what he has to say.

      • Ducey

        Cervenka was just another boneheaded Feaster move. He was supposed to come in and play #1 C. That would be difficult for any player in his first year in North America, especially for someone who didn’t play center.

        Belov is initially coming in to play a depth role on defense(#5 or #6). They are not bringing him in as a #1. And it appears he actually plays the position.

        Its a great move. The only downside is that he takes up a litle cap room and a contract spot.

      • The Soup Fascist

        Confucius say,

        “journey of 1000 miles always begin with single step”

        I think this is a very good, low risk / potentially high reward signing. Much better idea that dishing out millions in a weak UFA market, IMO. Is it a high profile guy? – no. But Chesnokov knows both leagues and his opinion should not be dismissed. I think this is a good first step in the “Bold Move Gambit”

        Having said that, I am pretty sure Confucius was also the guy who said,

        .. “man with hole in pocket feel cocky all day” – so what the hell did he know?

      • YEGFan

        No, we are pooched if all MacT does is try and do the same thing as everyone else. He is the GM because he is supposed to be able to see value where other people do not and take calculated risks that make the team better.

        If all the GM does is make obvious moves for players like Yandle, Scuderi, Weber, Streit,or Bogosian I would be happy to just be the GM for the Oilers on a part time volunteer basis. You know, to save the club MacT, Lowe, and the entire Scouting staff’s salary. I am not sure I have even seen all of those players play an entire game in the past year but I still have a reasonable idea of what they bring and that it would help the Oilers.

        If you think the Oilers’ plan should be to just add a couple big name players everybody has heard of you’re missing the point entirely.

    • TwoSkidoos

      Typically grown ups choose who they live with. While at home, they can’t tell Belov to live with Yak or vice versa.

      Yak lived with his parents last year. His whole family came over.

  • Bring Omark to camp. If he’s one of the twelve best forwards, put him on the roster.

    I know he’s supposed to be a player type they have too much of, but I would rather have too many players of one type than players who can’t play. Petrell is a big, strong, two-way type. He’s also horribly ineffective at the NHL level.

    Besides, the Oilers are moving towards puck possession, no? Having Omark on a depth line may be pretty helpful for that.

  • Alot of these comment threads would go way more smoothly if you guys accepted that Hemsky is a goner.

    Like Paper Designer said above, bring Omark to camp and let the chips fall where they may. It’s entirely possible that he improved aspects of his play in Europe that were lacking when he left the Oilers. I know that’s not a popular sentiment among the “must be fully developed by 22” crowd, but the reality is that athletes mature at different rates than what you might see playing NHL 13.

    • The Soup Fascist

      I think most readers just feel that enough is enough. We’re done with small skilled wingers, we have met our quota. Sure he may be a great individual player, but having a bunch of great individual players does not a great team make. Just look at Tampa, they have two of the best individual players in terms of points last year and they are a terrible team.

      The Oilers have needs that even the best smalled skilled winger will just not fill. Even as good as Omark is, I think everyone can agree he’s not better than Eberle, and he’s not better than Yak, so as a third line RW, is he going to make our team better?

      • The Oilers have needs that even the best smalled skilled winger will just not fill. Even as good as Omark is, I think everyone can agree he’s not better than Eberle, and he’s not better than Yak, so as a third line RW, is he going to make our team better?

        If we’re considering three scoring lines, Omark may be of value. Not saying he’s an automatic, but you have to consider the possibility.

        • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

          If Omark is an Oiler next year, it will demonstrate management hasn’t learned a thing. If he’s really truly that good to crack our top six, then he can be traded for good value somewhere else to get back a piece we need.

  • YEGFan

    Why would you like to see redden win it?

    Pens all the way!! Would love to see iggy win the cup. Despite playing for the flamers he is one of the best players to come out of edmonton ever. Him and messier. Both St. Albert boys by the way.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    After watching a couple clips, it appears the pace/intensity of play is off a tad. There will certainly be an adjustment period for him to catch up even to Oiler speed, let alone a competitive teams pace. Hell, Jason Strudwick looks like he could still be playing over there if he wanted to.

    If he has another gear he might start the season with the Oilers, but I think there’s going to be an adjustment period in OKC for sure. MacTavish obviously has the same concerns, with only a one yr deal. Hope i’m wrong, and he brings it from day 1 in camp.

    • The Soup Fascist

      You got all that from the clips?

      I am not sure there is as big a gap in terms of the KHL and NHL as you might think. I would further say the difference in pace of play between two KHL teams or Florida vs Colorado wearing generic jerseys might be difficult to judge.

      Not saying the KHL is equivalent to the NHL, I just wonder how evident that would be watching a few minutes of clips with no context.

      Plus, I love Struds but he was essentially playing 2nd division hockey in Sweden two years ago. I am curious if he thinks he would have his hands full or not if he went to the KHL in fall? I suspect he would.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        Like I mentioned Soupy, I hope i’m wrong, but a one yr deal doesn’t scream “we have us a winner” to you either, does it? It’s just another experiment/gamble the Oilers hope will work out in their favour. Definitely a second tier move as this summers goings on occur.

        We’ll just have to be patient and wait for MacTavish’s Shock and Awe campaign to begin I guess.

    • Word to the Bird

      Heck , I. Ulanov still playing there pressing 42 years . Even many Canadians still playing in KHL . I doubt it’s much better than our AHL overall . No wonder the good players want out !

  • Word to the Bird

    Here’s a bold move…

    IF you think Omark can crack top 6, you move one of your higher ticket but smallish top 6 wingers. Dangling Eberle would probably return a #1 or #2 Dman with similar pricetag.

    Before you crap on the idea, consider the tradeoff. Would the downgrade effect on the forward lines be more than offset by the upgrade of Moving in a true #1 and moving Petry to second unit?

    Eberle for Yandle?

      • Word to the Bird

        I doubt the #7 overall pick has the same value as Ebs, but it would be interesting if they moved either one. If Eberle was moved, Rajala could be made a roster spot, possibly Omark.

  • Word to the Bird

    isn`t yak a muslim, not that it means anything but trying to find russian`s to pair up with him probably isn`t a great idea, unless there muslim also, just sayin.

  • **

    everyone is forgetting another big young russian named Daniil Zharkov. He actually did pretty well in the post season in his league. He is 6’4, 212 lbs (hockeydb.com) and he is a left shot. He is still young but he could turn into a bulldozer in a 3rd line.

    • Maddog

      He is not forgotten by a longshot.

      We will see more of him soon I am sure.Even if he canprovide avarage NHL offense with that size we have room for him,and if he can show a mean streak,he will definately find a home.

      My kingdom for a big man who sees the points as his before the game and gets madder and madder over 60 mins if the opponents dont turn them over,and decides to smash those points out one way or another getting meaner and meaner as the 60 minutes expires,increasing his nasty and intensity levels.

      Maybe Zharkov is this man.Maybe he is a greedy guy who believes he deserves the points every night,sometimes the Green Monster can really drive a man to great heights,I am smelling Messier type motivation behind Zharkov and want to see more of him ASAP. maybe he doesnt think the stars we have are better than he is,and has the cojones to say so,I goddam love it,bring him to camp.Put his big arse out there ,maybe he can do as he says he can,he hasnt been proven wrong yet.

    • Maddog

      He just signed a contract with the KHL so everyone is worried that he’ll either pan out but won’t want to come back, or will never be good enough to come back. Kind of crappy.