On Saturday, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin participated in Ilya Kovalchuk’s charity hockey game, “From Pure Heart.” Also at the game was KHL president Alexander Medvedev.
A member of Sport-Express’s sports department caught up with Medvedev, asking a bunch of questions about the charity game and the KHL. At the end of their conversation, the interviewer asked a rote question about when Ovechkin and other Russian NHL stars might leave North America and come back home.
Medvedev’s answer was portentous.
Photo: Elsa/Getty Images
St. Louis Blues forward Vladimir Sobotka has signed a three-year contract with the KHL’s Avangard Omsk. It’s been reported by iSport.cz and translated to Russian by Sports.ru that Sobotka has a clause in his contract that would allow him to return to the NHL during any offseason. Reports of his salary have varied: the initial report by iSport had Sobotka’s salary at $4 million per year. Andy Strickland of CBS Sports Radio St. Louis tweeted that according to his sources Sobotka will be making $4.3 million average throughout the life of the deal. Sobotka’s agent Darryl Wolski tweeted that his client will be making just $2.8 million per year.
There’s even more confusion as to whether he could return to St. Louis or any other NHL team.
Former Washington Capitals and Hershey Bears forward Oskar Osala has won the Gagarin Cup. His Metallurg Magnitogorsk won game seven 7-4 over Lev Praha.
In the NHL, Osala played in all of three games (two with Washington, one with Carolina). For the most of his North American career, Osala played in the AHL with the Hershey Bears (where he won the Calder Cup in 2009), the Albany River Rats, and the Charlotte Checkers.
Osala, who was traded by the Caps as part of the package for Joe Corvo (sigh) in 2010, has spent the past three seasons in the KHL. Metallurg traded for him last December after Osala played for Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk for more than two years.
[Editor’s note: We’re not writing about this topic to invite a debate on Barack Obama’s presidency or the politics of Crimea. This article is about hockey. Kind of. It’s also about Miley Cyrus.]
In March, Vladimir Putin sent troops into the Crimea. His stated motive was to protect the mostly Russian population there from unrest. A few days later, the Crimean parliament declared independence from Ukraine and asked to join the Russian Federation. Putin then claimed Crimea as part of Russia on moral and material grounds, citing the principle of self-determination and Crimea’s strategic importance for Russia or some ish like that.
Lots of world leaders were pretty pissed about this, judging by the non-binding UN resolution (100 of 193 in favor) that declared Crimea’s Moscow-backed referendum invalid a few days later. Then the United States decided to show just how pissed they were by sanctioning Vladimir Putin and all his boyz.
Those of us who watch the news every night and consider ourselves informed knew all of this already. What we didn’t know is who exactly got sanctioned, why they got sanctioned, and why those sanctions matter to us. Thanks to Jennifer M. Smith (whom we had the pleasure of meeting at RMNB Party 6) and her co-workers at the Stewart & Stewart law firm, we have learned that some of the people sanctioned are deeply involved in the Russian hockey league, the KHL. Russian billionaire Arkady Rotenberg, president of Alex Ovechkin’s former KHL team Dynamo Moscow, has been sanctioned by the United States for being Putin’s former judo partner and a member of his inner circle.
You can’t make this stuff up.
This just in: Caps prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov has been released from his KHL contract with Traktor Chelyabinsk. This is another hurdle cleared on his path to Washington.
The Caps have a policy of not discussing players currently under contract to other teams. That no longer applies here. What happens next will be interesting.
The news comes directly from the KHL’s Facebook page.
Evgeny Kuznetsov‘s Traktor Chelyabinsk was eliminated from playoff contention a few hours before their game against Ak Bars on Tuesday. It was still a big game for Kuznetsov, who has been treating it as if it would be his last in Chelyabinsk.
This post contains everything we know so far. We’ll be updating throughout the day.
Early on Tuesday morning, Admiral, the eighth best team in the KHL’s Eastern Conference, defeated Amur 4-1. Admiral has now qualified for the KHL Playoffs. This also means that Evgeny Kuznetsov‘s Traktor Chelyabinsk, who was the Eastern Conference Champions last season, will miss the playoffs entirely for the first time since 2010-11.
Despite high hopes for this season, Traktor couldn’t quite get it together. Kuznetsov, the hometown star and offensive leader, suffered a shoulder injury that required shoulder surgery on September 6th, just a few games into the season. A few months later, Kuznetsov suffered a freak knee injury that also required surgery.
Traktor will now participate in the Nadezhda Cup, the KHL’s “loser” tournament for teams that don’t make the postseason.
It remains to be seen what Kuznetsov will do next.
In KHL action on Saturday, Admiral jumped into the East’s final playoff spot with a 3-1 home win over Metallurg Novokuznetsk. On Sunday, Traktor Chelyabinsk, who still had control of their own destiny with a game in hand, had a chance to leapfrog Admiral if the could beat Torpedo.
They could not.
Now that Washington Capitals prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov has made it clear he’s coming to DC, the only question left is when. If his KHL team, Traktor Chelyabinsk, makes the playoffs, his journey to North America will be delayed.
On Friday morning, the picture became more clear as Traktor Chelyabinsk defeated Vityaz Chekhov, 3-2, two days after falling to defending champion Dynamo 5-3. Kuznetsov continued some great play, recording a “secondary” assist on (former Capital) Jan Bulis‘ first period goal. He also recorded two shots on goal and lost all three of his face-offs in 20:55 of ice time — most among any Traktor forward.
Evgeny Kuznetsov and Jan Bulis are two of the Traktor’s highest-paid players (Photo credit: Vitaly Gubin/HC Traktor)
Sports.ru has revealed the list of the 90 highest-paid KHL players. Unsurprisingly, Ilya Kovalchuk, who retired from the NHL to sign with SKA St. Petersburg, tops the list at $10.3 million per year (in US dollars). Alexander Radulov, who signed with CSKA Moscow a year ago, holds second place with $7.5 million per season. Sergei Zinovyev is inarguably the worst contract in the KHL. He’s a center in the last season of a five-year deal with Salavat Yulaev whose production has fallen dramatically during that contract, but he still makes $4.7 million per year, third highest in the league.
The list also features a few names that should be familiar to Washington Capitals fans.
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