Brennan Menell is an intriguing player with an equally interesting journey. He was undrafted but is now finding success in the KHL. And, in a really interesting move, news this week reported that he’s been granted Russian citizenship.
In this post, I’ll take a look at the fascinating story of Menell and his hockey career.
The Rise of Brennan Menell
Menell’s hockey journey began in the Western Hockey League (WHL). There he showed his skills as a promising offensive defenseman with the Vancouver Giants and Lethbridge Hurricanes. Despite his impressive performances, he wasn’t drafted by any NHL team.
However, his solid play caught the attention of the Minnesota Wild. They signed him in September 2017.
Menell Finds Success in the KHL
During his time with the Wild’s AHL affiliate, the Iowa Wild, Menell continued to play well. However, because he faced tough competition to make the Wild’s defensive roster, he took a flyer and jumped to the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) for the 2020-21 season. There he joined Dynamo Minsk in Belarus.
In the KHL, Menell’s potential as an offensive defenseman began to emerge. He put up an impressive 38 points during 47 games. That ranked him second among all KHL defensemen in scoring.
The Maple Leafs Became Interested and Signed Him
I first came to know Menell when the Maple Leafs jumped at the chance to sign him as a way to strengthen their defensive lineup. Then Maple Leafs’ general manager (GM) Kyle Dubas leveraged his KHL pipeline to sign Menell to a one-year, two-way contract. That deal earned Menell $750,000 in the NHL or $400,000 in the AHL with the Toronto Marlies.
Although Menell was a contender to secure a spot a roster spot because he was such a solid power-play quarterback, he was never able to make the big team. Once again, he returned to Russia to play.
Menell’s Recent and Surprising Turn of Events
The news that Menell had sought and had been given Russian citizenship seems like a bit of a shocker. As noted, Menell had decided once again to move to Russia to play. Obviously, it suited him. The surprising twist that has occurred is that the 26-year-old defenseman was granted Russian citizenship by prime minister Vladimir Putin.
Menell had another impressive season with his second KHL team the Moscow Dynamo. Apparently he’s found both a home in the KHL and a home in Russia. It surely is an unexpected chapter in his hockey story. Given the current Russian situation with the war with Ukraine, it just seems an odd thing to do.
The Bottom Line
Whatever fans think of Menell’s decision to seek and be granted Russian citizenship, his hockey journey is a testament to his strong desire to play and his resilience to overcome challenges. From being undrafted to finding so much success in the KHL to being granted Russian citizenship, it is a fascinating story.
Let’s hope the decision works out well for him. Menell seems determined to play hockey. Now he’s found a home base to do it. Who knows where his hockey adventure and personal life takes him next?