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NHL easier than KHL, says Russian Maple Leafs prospect
Credit: Photo by Maksim Konstantinov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

When it comes to the National Hockey League, everyone agrees that it’s the best professional hockey league in the world.

So, logically, the best hockey players on the planet play for an NHL team.

Many different nationalities are represented in the NHL, which is still predominantly made up of Canadian players (42.9%).

But outside the NHL, there are other great hockey leagues around the world.

Here’s a ranking of the different hockey leagues around the world, according to their level of play and competition.

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Unsurprisingly, the KHL, Russia’s best league, is second, just behind the NHL.

Hats off to the National League, Switzerland’s top league, for its development in recent years, which has earned it fourth place, ahead of big leagues such as the Liiga (Finland), among others.

In short, the KHL is currently the second-best hockey league in the world.

The question now is whether there’s that much of a gap in the level of play between the NHL and the KHL.

Well, according to a Russian prospect of the Toronto Maple Leafs who plays in the KHL, there’s really no difference between the two leagues, even if, in his opinion, the NHL is easier and simpler than the KHL.

In an interview with Pavel Lyssenkov of Russian website MatchTV, Nikita Grebenkin stated there’s nothing special about the NHL compared to the KHL.

The Toronto Leafs prospect, drafted in the fifth round (135th overall) in 2022, has been playing in the KHL for good for the past two seasons.

This year, he scored 41 points (19 goals, 22 assists) in 67 games with Magnitogorsk Mettalurg, and added six points, including three goals, in 23 playoff games.

He also won the Gagarin Cup.

In short, Grebenkin sincerely believes that the NHL is easier than the KHL, given that the NHL plays much more simply, in his opinion.

“There’s nothing special there. In general, the NHL plays even more simply than ours. They don’t invent anything. And it doesn’t matter whether you’re a star or a fourth-liner.” -Nikita Grebenkin

The Maple Leafs’ 21-year-old Russian prospect explains that, especially in the playoffs, there’s no real difference with the KHL. It’s a very simple game with classic “dump and chase”, just like he experiences in the KHL.

In short, Grebenkin isn’t embarrassed to make such comparisons without ever having played in the NHL, even though the latter remains his goal.

The Leafs prospect is, let’s just say, very confident in his abilities.

“I’m not saying I’ll go to the NHL now and immediately become a star, but everything’s going well with my inner confidence.” – Nikita Grebenkin

It will be interesting to see how Grebenkin’s career continues.

Personally, I think he’ll potentially be in for a shock once he gets to the NHL, and that it may not be as straightforward as he thinks.

But, on the other hand, when you see the likes of Artemi Panarin and Kirill Kaprizov arrive in the NHL and dominate as much, if not more than in the KHL, you have to seriously question the gap in the level of play between the two leagues.

In a gust

– To be continued today.

– Indeed.

– It would be incredible for the young Quebecer’s career.

– Good news.

– For those interested.

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