The San Jose Sharks have signed defenseman Nikolai Knyzhov to a one-year contract extension with a cap hit of $850,000, including a $100,000 signing bonus, per CapFriendly. Due to a series of injuries and setbacks, Knyzhov has missed the entire 2021-22 season, though he had been expected to contend for a roster spot.
“Nikolai is a reliable and versatile defenseman who can play in many situations,” said Sharks assistant general manager Joe Will in a release. “His development through the Barracuda along with his intense work ethic allowed him to matriculate to being an NHL regular.”
The contract is about as low-risk, high-reward as it gets. A Moscow native, Knyzhov had a strong rookie season in 2020-21, playing alongside Erik Karlsson on the second pairing and recording 10 points (2 goals, 8 assists). Knyzhov was named the Sharks’ Rookie of the Year for the 2020-21 season. The now 24-year-old missed the beginning of the 2021-22 season due to a sports hernia injury that also caused him to miss the IIHF World Championships, but Sharks head coach Bob Boughner denied at the time that it would be a season-ending injury. However, things got progressively worse for the young defender during his recovery, as Boughner later revealed that Knyzhov had been on an IV for a couple of months after an infection from surgery.
“That basically took all his progress and put it back to zero,” Boughner told media in mid-March.
It seems that Knyzhov’s recovery has been progressing well since, with a source telling San Jose Hockey Now that doctors were “very happy with his current health.”
Knyzhov was signed by the Sharks on July 2, 2019, after featuring in the Sharks’ 2019 Prospect Development Camp. The undrafted free agent previously played for SKA-Neva St. Petersburg, the feeder team for Kontinental Hockey League giant SKA St. Petersburg. He also represented Russia at the 2018 World Juniors Championship.