Despite having the chance to stay in his native Russia, forward Pavel Zykov will return to the Fargo Force next season.
Force director of player personnel Jesse Davis said Zykov, who was taken in the second round of the KHL Amateur Draft earlier this month by Metallurg Magnitogorsk, the program which cultivated NHL star Evgeni Malkin.
“All we’ve heard is that he is still coming back,” Davis said of Zykov. “We haven’t heard anything different.”
The 6-1, 175-pound Zykov was a free agent signee by the Force about midway through the season after being spotted by Davis at a tournament in Chicago. He played 20 games with the Force scoring two points while adjusting to living in the United States for the first time.
Davis said it became apparent Zykov,17, was going to return to the Force given that he left all of his personal belongings in Fargo.
“I think he misses the food here too,” Davis joked. “He liked the American-style food like the fast food and he might be back even quicker and you see him at Hardee’s.”
Getting Zykov’s commitment for a return means the Force will have seven forwards from last season’s playoff team which suffered a consecutive second round exit from the Western Conference playoffs.
Davis said fellow Russian forward Stanislav Dzahkov would return while forward Nick Stoskopf would not be returning. Davis said Stoskopf has accepted a scholarship to play at Division III Wisconsin-Superior for next season.
Stoskopf, who was a high school free agent signee under former coach Jason Herter, played 65 games with the Force scoring 14 points and was a minus-19 including a team low minus-17 this season.
Davis added defenseman David Mead appears as if he is on his way out of the door as he’s trying out with other teams in the league along with being a first-round pick of the Wenatchee Wild in the NAHL.
“If I was a betting man, that’s a spot he’d end up,” Davis said about Mead going to the NAHL. “Bliss Littler is the head coach there and he has a good relationship with him because of their time in Omaha together. Looking up and down their roster, they need a guy like him.”
If Mead leaves, it gives the Force four returning defenseman for next season plus a number of options as the team could draw from its affiliates list, draft picks and potential free agents.