After midnight came and went, hockey’s biggest league is now out of order and NHL stars are free to sign contracts withh Russia’s KHL. Free from their contractual obligations as of now, players can sign with teams overseas (though some leagues, such as Swedish Elitserien (SEL), don’t allow temporary contracts).
Earlier, the KHL announced requirements for players signing temp deals. A single team can sign no more than three players and only one of them can be non-Russian (though teams are not obligated to dress more than five foreigners to games). They don’t count against the salary cap, but they can’t be signed to contracts worth more than the 65% of their NHL deals’ annual value.
Foreign KHL players must meet one of the following criteria:
- Play in more than 150 NHL games in the previous three seasons;
- Have KHL experience;
- Be a Stanley Cup winner or finalist;
- Be a winner of one of the NHL’s annual awards;
- Play for their national teams on the 2010 Olympics, one of the last two World Champs or one of the last two World Junior Champs.
These rules don’t apply to the KHL teams representing countries outside Russia.
Below the jump, we give you the blow-by-blow of the KHL’s version of a free-agent frenzy.
- The Pittsburgh Penguins’ Evgeni Malkin and the Ottawa Senators’ Sergei Gonchar have signed with Metallurg Magnitogorsk, their official site announces. Malkin is Magnitogorsk-native and Gonchar played there during the 2004-05 lockout. Malkin left the club with scandal in 2005.
- The Flyers’ Ruslan Fedotenko and the Winnipeg Jets’ Alexei Ponikarovsky have joined Donbass Donetsk, according to their official site. Two of the NHL’s three Ukranian players will now play for the only Ukranian team in the KHL.
- New Jersey Devils’ Ilya Kovalchuk will play for SKA St. Petersburg, as per the official release. His agent Yuri Nikolaev said in an interview with Sportbox.ru, his client has been talking with SKA for two years and had obligations with them.
- Ottawa Senators’ Kaspars Daugavins will join Dinamo Riga, Dinamo’s official site reports. Daugavins is a Riga-native.
- Toronto Maple Leafs’ Nikolai Kulemin has become a member of Metallurg Magnitogorsk, his hometown team, according to their official site. With Malkin, Gonchar and Kulemin, Metallurg has used their limit of temporary contracts. So, no Crosby.
- Ak Bars Kazan has released an official statement saying that they will not sign temporary contracts. Ak Bars was one of the most agressive clubs during the 2004 NHL lockout, but it didn’t work out well for them in the playoffs. This fall, they’ve been linked to Pavel Datsyuk and Alexander Burmistrov.
- Dinamo Minsk‘s official site has announced that they’ve reached a verbal agreement with Minnesota Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom. The signing makes sense, because Backstrom once played under their goalie coach Ari Hilli.
- The Calgary Flames’ Jiri Hudler and the Philadelphia Flyers’ Jakub Voracek have signed with Lev Praha, according to the KHL’s website. It’s an aggressive move for the Western Conference leading Lev, who is in its first year of existence in the KHL.
- Barys Astana‘s official site has announced that the club has come to agreement with Nik Antropov of the Winnipeg Jets. Antropov, the best Kazakhstani player in the NHL, will join a Barys team which is currently tenth of twelve teams in the Eastern Conference.
- Pavel Datsyuk will play for CSKA Moscow, his agent, Gary Greenstin, told SovSport. It was officially confirmed earlier that Datsyuk’s hometown team, Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg, was kicking tires to acquire the Detroit Red Wings’ center.
- Anton Khudobin of the Boston Bruins has signed with Atlant Moscow Region, according to the team’s official site. Khudobin, who was considered a back-up goaltender on the Bruins’ depth chart after Tim Thomas announced his hiatus, played for Metallurg Magnitogorsk before coming over to play in the Minnesota Wild organization.
- Vladimir Tarasenko of the St. Louis Blues will return to SKA St. Petersburg, according to their site. The news over the last few days showed a lot of hesitation – the young forward, who is considered one of the Calder Trophy frontrunners, had to choose between the AHL’s Peoria Rivermen and coming back home.
- New York Islanders’ defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky has joined Slovan Bratislava, KHL site reports. Visnovsky played for Slovan (then of the Slovak Extra League) before coming to the NHL.
- Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov has signed with CSKA Moscow, per their official site.