Kevin Dallman never grew up dreaming of playing in Russia, but he has become one of the best players in Russian elite league history.
Canadian pros who find NHL jobs hard to come by have often headed to Europe for big pay checks rather than travelling the "iron lung" to minor league cities in the southern US. But with the creation of Russia's oil-rich Kontinental Hockey League Canadians are striking it rich in Russia now, too.
Kevin Dallman was an undersized defenseman. He was a bit of a late bloomer with the OHL's Guelph Storm, as a result he was never drafted. The Bruins signed him as a free agent and let him apprentice in the minor leagues for three years. He got into 21 games with the B's, before moving on to St. Louis and later Los Angeles. In total he played over 154 NHL games, quite the accomplishment for an undrafted player.
He moved on to Astana, Kazakhstan, where he played with the local KHL team, Barys Astana. He may have headed there with only short term plans, but he now has no intention on leaving. He is team captain and has rewritten the Russian record book.
"I was only going to come over for one year and then go back and show I could play there," Dallman said. "But everything worked out well. I had a really good year and I had a lot of fun here."
Dallman led the league in scoring for defencemen in 2008-09 with 58 points and 28 goals in 53 games, besting the legendary Viacheslav Fetisov's record for most points by a defenseman in the Russian league.
Although he got offers from a few NHL teams after his first year, he opted to stay in Astana and signed a three-year deal with the team.
Time will tell what is in Dallman's future. Maybe he will even one day return to the NHL. But one thing is for sure - this Canadian kid will go down as a hockey legend - in Kazakhstan.