Due to the NHL lockout imposed by the league on September 16th (because of failed CBA renegotiations), many teams are sending AHL-eligbile players down to their affiliate clubs. Additionally, some players are signing with foreign leagues in order to get some hockey in this year.
Among those players sent down to the AHL are: 2011 first overall draft pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins; first-round picks Jordan Eberle (2008), Braydon Schenn (2009), Jeff Skinner (2010), and Sean Couturier (2011); and 2008 third-round pick– and linemate of Ilya Kovalchuk– Adam Henrique. Even the Washington Capitals’ Braden Holtby, who looked and played like a seasoned veteran in the playoffs this year, is being sent down. All of these players have seen NHL time and have bright careers ahead of them, but due to the potentially season-ending lockout they will be forced to put their budding careers on hold.
The incredibly talented Russian sniper Nail Yakupov– the first pick in this year’s entry draft– has been sent down to juniors due to his ripe age of 19.
Some of the older players, however, are seizing this opportunity to play hockey in their home countries. I am speaking of course about the reigning Hart Trophy winner Evgeni Malkin and the veteran defenseman Sergei Gonchar. On Sunday the two Russians signed deals with the Russian club Metallurg Magnitogorsk through at least the 2012-2013 season. I say at least because there is no specified time by which this NHL lockout must end (sigh…), however it is safe to say we will see Geno and Sergei back for the 2013-2014 season.
I don’t know about you all, but I am bummed to see these young players get sent down to the AHL and juniors, and for stars to sign with the KHL. I still hold a fading hope that the NHL and NHLPA will resolve their issues quickly enough for us to have a 2012-2013 season (at the very least an abbreviated one), but it seems now that Geno and others have given up on the prospect.
Note: I will be updating this post with any and all significant news about players signing in different leagues.
Update (5:50 PM 9/18):
The Devils’ Ilya Kovalchuk has officially signed with the Kontinental League’s SKA St. Petersburg.
The Sabres’ Christian Ehrhoff has gone to play with the Krefeld Penguins of the German DEL.
Update (6:41 PM 9/18):
Both the Sharks’ Joe Thornton and the Rangers’ Rick Nash have signed with HC Davos of the Swiss National League. Boy are they going to tear it up together in National League A.
Update (12:28 PM 9/19):
Anze Kopitar of the champion L.A. Kings has signed with the Swedish team Mora Ishockeyklubb (yes, that’s actually the team’s name), Alexander “The Great” Ovechkin has signed with the KHL’s Dynamo Moscow club, and Jason Spezza of the Senators has signed with Rapperswil-Jona in the Swiss Elite League. These updates are getting harder and harder to spell…
Update (11:08 PM 9/19):
Expert dangler Pavel Datsyuk has signed with the KHL’s CSKA Moscow, and Dallas’ Jaromir Jagr and Montreal’s Tomas Plekanec have signed with HC Kladno in the Czech Extraliga.
Update (6:32 AM 9/21):
The Bruins’ Tyler Seguin has signed with the Swiss club EHC Biel in National League A.
Update (9:55 AM 9/24):
The Canadiens’ Max Pacioretty has also gone off to play in Switzerland, as a member of Ambri-Piotta (alongside fellow ex-NHLer Richard Park).
Update (12:48 PM 9/25):
The Hurricanes’ newly-acquired Alexander Semin has signed with Sokol Krasnoyarsk in the Russian minors. 2011-2012 Vezina finalist Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators has signed with Dinamo Minsk in the KHL.
Update (6:48 PM 9/26):
The Senators’ budding defensive star Erik Karlsson has signed with Jokerit, a Finnish club in the Elite League.
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