Unrestricted free agent defenseman James Wisniewski is closing in on an agreement to join Barys Astana of the KHL, TSN’s Darren Dreger reports (via Twitter). Despite heading overseas, Dreger notes that Wisniewski is still hopeful of an NHL return at some point.
Wisniewski was bought out by Carolina back in June after an injury cost him the majority of last season; he played all of two shifts before tearing his ACL.
He was due a salary of $3MM this year with a cap hit of $5.5MM. Instead, the Hurricanes opted to pay Wisniewski $2MM in salary over the next two seasons and are incurring a cap charge of $3.5MM this season and $1MM next year for him to not play for them.
Wisniewski was only able to secure a PTO with Tampa Bay over the summer but was cut partway through training camp after the team had concerns with his ability to learn the system quickly enough. Evidently, no other opportunities have presented themselves.
The 32 year old has played in 552 NHL games over his career with the Blackhawks, Ducks, Islanders, Canadiens, Blue Jackets, and Hurricanes. He has 53 goals and 221 assists under his belt while logging an average of 21:22 per game.
At the very least, a healthy season from Wisniewski in the KHL should help alleviate any concerns teams may have with his surgically repaired knee which should set him up for a possible return to the NHL next season.