Thursday, July 19, 2018

KHL prepares for major roster changes as NHL returns to work

A January 6 meeting between owners and players in the National Hockey League effectively put an end to the NHL's 113-day lockout, leaving many in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League scrambling as the KHL's all-star game approaches.

Approximately 40 NHL hockey players moved to the Russian league during the lockout, including such high-profile athletes as Alexander Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Ilya Kovalchuk, Pavel Datsyuk and Kris Letang. Letang, a defenseman for the Pittsburgh Penguins, was a recent addition to the KHL's SKA St. Petersburg. Now that NHL training camps are expected to begin later in the week, Letang is under contract to leave his new St. Petersburg team and return to the Penguins, Yahoo reports.

KHL Vice President Vladimir Shalaev said that the Russian league has received calls for Ovechkin, Malkin and other high-profile players to return to the NHL. While KHL officials have no plans to obstruct the exodus of NHL-turned-KHL players under contract, Shalaev said that the NHL is responsible for announcing which athletes have to returned to North America.

The KHL's All-Star Game is scheduled for January 13. Eight of the all-star teams' starters are NHL players, however, and are contractually obligated to return to North America for training later this week. KHL's Shawn McBride said that the all-star game will still be held and that roster replacements will be addressed as necessary, according to Yahoo.