It was June 26, 2010 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles California. There were 16 picks remaining in the seventh round when the Boston Bruins were on the clock to make their selection. The name they called was Maxim Chudinov then of the Cherepovets Severstal of the Kontinental Hockey League. The Bruins had a second pick that year and selected Zach Trotman with the last pick in the draft.
Chudinov had just completed 47 games that season for Cherepovets and notched 6 goals and 7 assists after getting the call to the big league after spending just 4 games with Cherepovets Almaz of the MHL (Russia’s equivalent to the CHL or USHL).
Chudinov spent 3 full seasons with Cherepovets in the KHL from 2009-2010 through the 2011-2012 season. From there he spent 5 full seasons with St Petersburg SKA beginning in the 2012-2013 season and through to the 2016-2017 season. He began the 2017-2018 season with St Petersburg but was traded 14 games into the season to Omsk Avangard where he played the next 4 seasons.
Chudinov has won the Gagarin Cup on three occasions: 2014-2015, 2016-2017 and 2020-2021.
Chudinov also has a wealth of international experience beginning with the WJC Under-28 (Gold) in 2006-2007. He returned to the WJC Under-18 in 2007-2008 (Silver) while also making the first of three consecutive appearances at the WJC Under-20. He helped Russia to Bronze in 2008 and 2009 and in 2010 was named Top 3 Player on the Team.
At the World Championships, Chudinov won Gold in 2014, Silver in 2015, and Bronze in 2016. He was named to the KHL First All-Star team in 2014-2015 and was at the KHL All-Star game twice, 2011-2012 and 2013-2014.
It’s an understatement to say the Bruins haven’t had much luck drafting Russians. But not only could Chudinov play, but he would have been one of the fan favorites with his style in Boston. Despite being 5’11 inches, he relished the physical game and made some crushing hits.
There was one time yours truly heard that he had given a ‘slight’ indication that he would head to North America, but his heart was in Russia and there he remained.
Now, at 31 years of age and still some fuel in the tank, Chudinov is looking for a team to play for.
On July 19 of this year, Avangard placed Chudinov on waivers in hopes someone would claim him. On August 23, after he went unclaimed, Avangard terminated his contract and Chudinov became an unrestricted free agent.
All that remains now from that 2010 draft: Tyler Seguin (as if you need reminding) is with the Dallas Stars; Jared Knight never played an NHL game; Ryan Spooner is in the KHL; Craig Cunningham (retired. You know the story there); Justin Florek is playing in the ECHL; Zane McIntyre is currently a UFA and Trotman is retired.
Back in 2015-2016, Chudinov was the 14th highest paid player in the KHL with a salary of 90 million Rubles ($1.5 million USD) in a league just shy of 500 players. At the time his contract was terminated, Chudinov was earning 40 million Rubles ($556,000 USD). Those are base salaries and does not include any bonuses he may have had.
It was never about the money for Chudinov. He obviously could have made more money in the NHL if he attempted it and had any sort of success. His heart was in Russia and kudos to him for making a career for himself in his homeland. But one can’t help but wonder…
Today, I would probably stand a better chance of playing for the Black and Gold. But it’s always fun to think about the “what if he came over now” or better yet, “what if he had made a different choice around 2010”?
The marriage between the Bruins and Chudinov will last a lifetime. Because he never signed an entry level contract, the Bruins own his rights in perpetuity.
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