The KHL’s top free agent has found a home with AK Bars Kazan for the 2020-21 season. On Tuesday morning, it was announced that Winnipeg’s Nigel Dawes had signed for the coming season, after mutually parting ways with Avtomobilist Ekaterinburg – the team in which he served as captain the past two seasons.
The 35-year-old finished fifth in KHL scoring in 2019-20 and has been in the top-three in league scoring each of the past three seasons. Dawes has hit the 50-point mark every year since the 2014-15 season, topping out at 69 points in 2018-19. In 119 total regular season games with Avtomobilist, the powerful forward has 48 goals and 119 points. He remains the KHL’s fifth-highest scorer all-time with 244 goals and 462 points in 496 games.
The former AAA Winnipeg Warrior moved to the KHL for the 2011-12 season following six years of professional play within North America. After being drafted 149th overall in 2003 by the New York Rangers, Dawes went on to play 121 games in the Big Apple from 2006-09, before spending the next two years between the Phoenix Coyotes, Calgary Flames, Atlanta Thrashers and Montreal Canadiens. He has 39 goals, 84 points and 43 NHL penalty minutes to his name, while also impressing with 117 goals, 233 points and 76 penalty minutes in the American Hockey League.
Currently in Winnipeg, Dawes will travel back to western Russia and suit up in the green, red and white for the beginning of the 2020-21 season later this summer. Led by former Winnipeg Jet Alexander Burmistrov, Ottawa Senator Stephane Da Costa, former Manitoba Moose captain Patrice Cormier and fellow Canadian Justin Azevedo, AK Bars Kazan will look to best their second place finish in 2019-20 – a season that saw the club go 50-18-5, finishing just one point behind first place CSKA Moscow. The 2020 Gagarin Cup was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.