After rumors surfaced during the Stanley Cup playoffs that Boston Bruins defenseman Steven Kampfer was headed to the KHL, it’s been confirmed this week. The longtime reserve Bruins defenseman has signed a one-year deal with Ak Bars Kazan to play in the KHL next season, a signing confirmed to Boston Hockey Now by Kampfer’s agent Alec Schall.
“He did sign in the KHL. Simple reasoning: he’s going to be 33, it was an attractive offer, and it will be fun to play a key role on his new team,” said Schall, when asked why now was the proper time for Kampfer to head overseas to play in Russia after logging 231 NHL games over the course of a 10-year professional hockey career.
Kampfer had an unfortunate end to his final season in Boston when hand surgery wiped out his availability for last spring’s playoff run for the Black and Gold. There were rumors he’d already decided to play in Russia while the postseason was still going on, but Kampfer said he hadn’t officially signed anything when the B’s season was over.
“It’s tough for any player because you don’t want to take yourself out of an equation. You don’t want to have surgery when you’re getting to that point of the season. It got to the point where we sat down with the trainers and the surgeon, and it was the best thing that we could do moving forward. It was extremely tough,” said Kampfer during the B’s season-ending zoom calls. “Obviously with Brandon and Kevan [injured] in the first round and then the second round where you’re essentially not available to play, it’s tough. You want to play. It’s the best time of year. I think that was the hard part. You want to be available. You want to help the team at any cost. When you can’t, it’s difficult.
“I’ve loved my time in Boston. If this is the end of it, I love the guys in the room, the staff, and we’ll go from there. I want to play hockey, obviously. Regardless of where that is, I want to play. I think I have a lot of hockey left in me. I think what happened this year, I guess I got hurt. It was unfortunate. I think the hardest part for me was I was playing, and I was playing well, then I had [to have] surgery.”
The writing was on the wall for Kampfer with the Bruins as the organization moved to push young defensemen like Jeremy Lauzon, Jakub Zboril and Connor Clifton into higher spots on the organizational depth chart last season. Clearly getting more playing time was a priority for Kampfer at this point in his career after bouncing between the NHL and AHL for the last decade but playing in Russia will also be a big adjustment for Kampfer and his young family.
The 33-year-old Kampfer finished with two goals and five points along with a plus-4 in 20 games and had spent the last three seasons serving as a reserve defenseman for the Boston Bruins in his second stint with the organization. Kampfer came to Boston ahead of the 2018-19 NHL season when the B’s dealt Adam McQuaid to the New York Rangers, and even suited up for a few playoff games including one where he scored a goal during Boston’s run to the Stanley Cup Final in the 2019 playoffs.
NEVER FORGET #StevieSnipes
— Bruins Diehards (@BruinsDiehards) July 12, 2020
Kampfer leaves North America with 15 goals and 39 points in 231 career NHL games with the Bruins, Wild, Panthers and Rangers over a 10-year career spent almost entirely as a valuable, unsung spare defenseman at the NHL level.
Kampfer will be joining former Boston Bruins teammate Par Lindholm on Al Bars Kazan, who similarly exited the Boston Bruins for Sweden last season when he was unhappy with the reserve role he was going to be playing with the NHL organization.