UFA, Russia – For awhile there have been rumours of Russian teams trying to lure NHL talent to the KHL. On Friday, reigning champions Salavat Yulayev Ufa signalled their intentions by announcing the acquisition of national team forward Alexander Radulov. The IIHF will investigate both the Radulov signing as well as the Niktita Filatov case.
Radulov was reportedly unhappy in Nashville and claims to have informed team management of his intentions to return to Russia. “I told my bosses in Nashville that I wanted to play at home and some Russian clubs were offering me much better conditions than I had in Nashville,” the 22-year-old told Russian media.
Last season Radulov scored 26 goals and had 58 points, ranking third on his team in scoring.
Despite the announcement, there are still several question marks surrounding the deal. It comes one day after the IIHF, the NHL, the NHL Players’ Association, European leagues and associations agreed to respect contracts and not to sign players who are under contractual obligations during the current situation where the IIHF and the NHL are without a Player Transfer Agreement. Representatives of the Russian federation and the KHL were at the meetings.
Radulov has one year left on his entry-level contract with the Nashville Predators that pays him $984,000 next season. Unconfirmed reports in Russia state that Radulov’s three-year deal with Salavat Yulayev is worth about $12 million.
The NHL informed the IIHF about the Radulov case and that the player has one year left remaining on his contract with his NHL club. IIHF President René Fasel informed the KHL that a signing of a player under contract is in blatant contradiction to the agreement and a violation of what all involved parties, including the KHL, agreed to during the meeting in Zurich on Thursday.
Requested by the KHL, the IIHF will also investigate the contractual status of Niktita Filatov, who signed with Columbus (NHL) earlier this week in order to determine whether the player is free to move or if he still has any contractual obligations with CSKA.
The KHL and Filatov's club CSKA Moscow claim that the 18-year old forward is not to be considered as an unrestricted free-agent and that the club still has the right, as supported by Russian law, to demand compensation if Filatov transfers to North America.
"The IIHF will approach both cases with the same determination in order to bring clarity to the respective players' contractual status, " says IIHF President René Fasel.
"We expect both the NHL as well as the KHL that they will not approve any contracts if the IIHF or any legal instance comes to the conclusion that the player is not to be considered an unrestricted free agent."Click here
for an IIHF.com story on Filatov from June 27.
Providing that the presented facts in the Radulov case are correct, the KHL is asked to void the contract between the player and the KHL club (Salavat Yulayev Ufa) which supposedly has signed the player. In case of violation of the agreement, the player is threatened to be “redflagged” in all IIHF events including for Salavat Yulayev in the Champions Hockey League and for the Russian national team in the World Championships and the Olympic Winter Games.
Since the reigning Russian champion Salavat Yulayev is one of Russia’s two representatives in the inaugural Champions Hockey League, the IIHF has legal means to impose sanctions pertaining to the club’s participation in the competition.
A transfer of the player to the KHL club can become feasible if the player negotiates his own release from the NHL club, thus becoming a free agent. This has been the case with Swede Jonas Frogren, who secured release from his Swedish club team before signing a contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Salavat Yulayev has also signed Canadian defenceman Steve McCarthy, an unrestricted free agent who played for the Atlanta Thrashers last season, to a two-year contract according to Sport-Express
- In the shadow of Radulov’s move to Russia, a number of other NHL players have signed less controversial contracts to play in Russia next season. 34-year-old Sergei Brylin returns home after a 13-year NHL career with the New Jersey Devils. The hard-working forward played 765 NHL games in which he notched 308 points. Furthermore, he dressed up in 104 playoff games (33 points). Brylin, who won three Stanley Cups with the Devils, signed a three-year deal with SKA St. Petersburg.
- Goaltender Ray Emery leaves the spotlights of Ottawa to play for Atlant Mytishchi. The second-round Senators draft pick was on his way to stardom after becoming the team’s starting netminder and leading them to the team’s first ever NHL Stanley Cup final in 2007. After having signed a new lucrative deal, Emery caught the headlines mostly for non-hockey-related stories. The Ottawa Senators were no longer interested in his services and put the goalie on waivers before a buy-out.
- Slovak Jozef Stumpel says goodbye to the NHL after having completed over 1,000 NHL games. The centre signed for Kazakh KHL team Barys Astana. The Nitra, Slovakia, native was drafted by the Boston Bruins in 1991 and made his NHL debut for the team in the same year. Stumpel was a member of the Slovakian national team that captured the gold medal at the 2002 World Championship.
JOERI LOONEN & IIHF STAFF