Photo credit: VTBRussia.ru
Friday, during a fan forum, Dynamo Moscow general director Andrey Safronov said that he’d talk to Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin about coming back to Russia. Ovechkin, a Dynamo alum who played for the club until 2005 as well as during the 2012 lockout, is under contract with the Capitals until 2021. The reigning Hart trophy winner is slated to receive $79 million over the next eight seasons.
Here is Safronov, as quoted by the Russian ITAR-TASS news agency:
Ovechkin has a current contract with the Capitals. Can we try to pull him out? We’ll talk, we’ll look at each other and will have some result. Right now all Russian national team players want to come back to their homeland. KHL shows its force and credibility. And finances are important too. Taking taxes in account, playing in Russia has become way more attractive for players.
Since Ilya Kovalchuk left the Devils to sign with SKA St. Petersburg earlier this summer, worries of Russian NHL stars returning to their Motherland have grown more pressing. The Red Wings’ center Pavel Datsyuk, however, set those worries to rest by signing an extension with Detroit.
A player walking away from an NHL contract to play in the KHL could result in an NHL team seeking resolution by claiming it as a conflict situation, which is subject to KHL/NHL interleague negotiations, as per the Memorandum of Understanding between the two leagues. The Devils chose not to go down this route with Kovalchuk.
Former agent Brian Lawton told The Score recently that teams can also toll defecting players’ contracts, circumstances which would make it impossible for the player to sign with another NHL club later. Agents Mark Gandler and JP Barry also told The Score that they believe Kovalchuk’s situation is unique and most likely won’t cause a mass exodus of Russian stars.
Alex Ovechkin leaving the Capitals anytime soon is very unlikely. However, as he ages and his contract grows more burdensome for the team, the chances Ovechkin returns home without risking retributive action from the Capitals may increase.