Defenseman Anton Babchuk was a KHL All-Star last season, returning to the Hurricanes and NHL as a free agent this year. The biggest difference in the two leagues, the Kiev native said, comes not so much in the overall talent level but more in the style of play.
KHL hockey is more uptempo and free-flowing, Babchuk said. Playmakers are sprinkled among all four lines and defensemen often change partners on the fly during the games.
“It’s more stop and start in the NHL because the ice [rink] is more narrow – theirs is four meters [13 feet, 11/2 inches] wider,” Babchuk said. “The NHL might be more intense. You have to skate more in the KHL. It changes the dynamic of your game, so you have to adjust.”
Asked to rate the two leagues, Babchuk smiled.
“The NHL is the best league, with the best atmosphere,” he said.