Let’s tell the story of Nik Antropov. We are beginning our first post on a specific player in our “what happened to him” series. This series is meant to look back at the first Winnipeg Jets team in 2011-12 and figure out what happened to each player. This was inspired by Blake Wheeler being the last active player from the Atlanta Thrasher days still playing for the franchise.
After looking at the transition to Winnipeg in our first post and discussing the first Jets season in our second post, it’s time to look at our first individual player – Nik Antropov.
Antropov began his career with the Toronto Maple Leafs after getting drafted 10th overall in 1998. He burst onto the scene one year later and scored 30 points in his rookie season in 1999-2000. Despite a strong rookie season, it took Antropov a few years before finally getting his feet under him. He eclipsed the 50 point mark for the first time in 2007-08 while setting his season-high goal total just one year later with 28 goals in 2008-09.
When comparing his career to other draftees, Antropov fares well. Of the 1998 draft, only 14 players have scored more career points. Even though he didn’t play for too long, it was a very productive career for the forward from Kazakhstan.
Journey to Winnipeg
Antropov spent more than eight seasons in Toronto before getting traded to the New York Rangers at the trade deadline. The trade was Nik Antropov for a second-round pick in the 2009 draft. This was a rental deal for the Rangers as Antropov’s contract expired in the summer of 2009. After that deal expired, he was a UFA and could sign with anyone. He chose the Thrashers and on July 2, 2009, Antropov became a part of the franchise.
Antropov went on to have four productive seasons with the franchise including his career-high in points with 67 during the 2009-10 season. By the time the franchise moved to Winnipeg, he only played two more seasons. In 2011-12, he had 15 goals and 20 assists. These 35 points put him seventh on the team in scoring for the year. Antropov anchored the middle six during his time with the franchise and helped provide depth scoring behind the top line.
Even though he didn’t lead the team in scoring, Antropov will always have a special place in the city’s heart as he scored the first goal back in Winnipeg. This special piece of history will always be remembered by fans of the team.
This all-important first goal and Antropov’s other contributions to the early years were enough for Jetsnation to give him a spot on the all-decade team albeit as a healthy scratch.
What happened to him?
Well, the point of this series is to find out what happened to him, so what did Antropov do after that first season in Winnipeg? As you can see from above, he played one more with the Jets in 2012-13, and at the end of that season, he was 33 years old. While it might look like he retired, he actually made his way to the KHL for two more seasons. He spent the early part of the lockout-shortened season in Russia before returning to the KHL after the NHL finished their season. He never returned back to the NHL as he stayed in the KHL for two more seasons.
Antropov also had a brief stint in the Kazakhstan league where he played 6 games in 2013-14. After these few seasons in Europe, Antropov retired from playing hockey after the 2014-15 season.
After his retirement, Antropov moved back to Canada to spend more time with his family. Antropov had already become a citizen back in 2007 and had a son playing in the OHL. He has three children and his oldest, Danil, has spent the last few seasons with the Oshawa Generals of the OHL before moving to Saginaw and playing for the Spirit.
That does it for the first post in our what happened to him series. The simple answer is that Nik Antropov went overseas after leaving Winnipeg and retired a few years later to spend more time with his family in Ontario.