In an exclusive interview with Sport.ua, the coach of Kyiv Capitals, Vadym Shahraychuk, delves into the intricacies of pre-season player selection, addressing the team’s preparedness for the impending season.
As the newly established Kyiv Capitals embarks on an eventful pre-season, head coach Vadym Shakhraychuk, who concurrently leads the national team of Ukraine, offers insights into the team’s preparations and prospects in an exclusive interview with Sport.ua.
– Vadym, could you provide an update on the selection process for Kyiv Capitals? Is everything progressing as planned?
– Yes, though the scarcity of accomplished Ukrainian hockey players has prompted a competitive race for valuable talent since mid-spring. As a result, while our team quickly took shape in terms of quantity, the pursuit of top-tier quality is an ongoing effort. We still seek to reinforce several positions, yet if the Ukrainian championship were to commence “tomorrow,” Kyiv Capitals stands primed and ready not just to participate but to clinch victories.
– In your estimation, is the team equipped to contend for the championship in its inaugural season?
– To challenge powerhouses like last year’s finalists, “Sokil” and “Kremenchuk,” boasting formidable squads, we recognize the need for additional strengthening. This is our focus. Our team operates on a professional framework, encompassing both on-ice strategy and off-ice discipline.
– How do you assess the outcome of the pre-season selection process?
– Considering that a mere two months ago, Capitals declared its intent to compete in the national championship, striving to etch a lasting legacy in Ukrainian and Kyiv hockey, I believe our club has achieved remarkable progress within this period. While initial skepticism surrounded our ambitions, perceptions have transformed. Players are aware of our invested backing and commitment, observing our provision of comprehensive equipment support, from skates to helmets. Naturally, there are individuals who, once skeptical, are now eager to join our ranks; however, available positions are limited.
– Could you share your criteria when selecting players for the team?
– When players demonstrate comparable skills, our preference leans toward youth.
– Notably, the roster includes seasoned players from the first league’s Arsenal, namely Kostyantyn Ryabenko and Serhiy Chernenko.
– Arsenal emerged as champions in the first Ukrainian league in recent years, and the aforementioned players played pivotal roles within the team. I’m confident that with proper physical preparation, Ryabenko and Chernenko possess the capability to rival many hockey players, including those from last season’s championship finalists.
– You recently announced the signing of 17-year-old Nazar Boiko as the first goalkeeper for the club. Are there any other contenders for this position?
– Alongside Boiko, we are closely observing a group of young goaltenders, and negotiations with more experienced goalkeepers are also underway. Commencing the season with young talent like Boyko wouldn’t pose an issue; he showcased a commendable performance for Sokil. Nazar will certainly have the opportunity to compete for the primary goalkeeper position. Crucially, his psychological readiness is key.
– Do you believe the goaltending position is the most challenging to fill within the Ukrainian market?
– Given the migration of several young, skilled goalkeepers to international teams, the position has indeed become highly competitive.
– Are negotiations with overseas players ongoing, and how likely are their potential arrivals amidst current circumstances?
– Yes, we are in pursuit of players to bolster key positions such as goaltending, defense, and central forwards. Our objective is to integrate foreign players who can contribute significantly and provide learning opportunities for our youth. It’s worth noting that we do not seek players from aggressor nations such as russia and belarus.
– In light of Latvia’s bronze success at the 2023 World Cup, have Latvian hockey players garnered increased attention?
– The players contributing to Latvia’s success predominantly ply their trade beyond the country’s borders. Thus, the Ukrainian championship may not rank as their top priority. However, our teams, “Sokil,” “Kremenchuk,” and “Capitals,” are poised to offer competitive financial packages exceeding those of the Baltic Championship’s top two teams. The challenge lies in securing foreign players while our nation faces daily rocket bombardment, making such endeavors a feat in themselves.
– Could you outline the immediate plans of Kyiv Capitals?
– The team is set to convene in Kyiv on July 3, commencing a month-long training camp geared towards young prospects. During this period, potential new additions will have the opportunity to showcase their dedication and commitment to the coaching staff’s vision. Interestingly, experienced players under contract have expressed interest in participating in this immersive training cycle at the Shalett rink, encompassing both on-ice and off-ice training. It’s noteworthy that our official first training camp is scheduled for August.
This training camp holds immense significance for our team as we actively work on establishing a youth squad. We remain optimistic about the resumption of the Ukrainian youth championship in the upcoming season. Regardless, the return of young hockey players necessitates competitive and comprehensive training.
– How many players are anticipated to participate in the July training session?
– The July training session is expected to host more than 25 players.
– Could you elaborate on your coaching staff?
– My esteemed assistant is Yurii Gunko. We are also in negotiations to welcome a dedicated goalkeeping coach to our staff. We held hopes of incorporating former “Sokil” goalkeeper and Ukrainian national team member Vadym Seliverstov into our team. Regrettably, Vadym candidly expressed that amidst wartime conditions, he wouldn’t be able to devote the necessary attention to goalkeeping duties. While this decision is respected, we extend our heartfelt gratitude to Vadym and extend profound respect to all soldiers protecting our nation, enabling us to not only uphold the realm of hockey but also other events within our country’s borders.