The KHL’s Dynamo Moscow released all its players on one-way contracts earlier today, reports Russian sports reporter Slava Malamud. The formerly-esteemed hockey club is in dire financial straits and may not even be able to play in the upcoming KHL season. This marks the second major blight on the KHL in recent times. The league lost two teams to contraction before the season started, with Metallurg Novokuznetsk being kicked out and Medvescak Zagreb moving to the EBEL, a lower-level Austrian-based league.
Earlier reports indicated that Dynamo has not paid its players for months. Players went on strike last month after new owners refused to honor the team’s debts—including unpaid player salary. Players eventually appealed to the KHL, who most likely forced Dynamo’s hand into making this move. It is unclear at the moment whether the KHL or the team itself voided the player contracts.
Dynamo’s money trouble came to light last month after, according to the Associated Press, its offices were raided by anti-fraud and corruption police. The team is under investigation for embezzlement, and is rumored to be about $35MM USD in debt. It’s current situation is a far cry from just a few years earlier, where Dynamo sat atop the KHL in 2012 and 2013. More recently, the team housed NHL phenom Alex Ovechkin during the 2012-13 NHL lockout, and current Toronto Maple Leaf Leo Komarov one year later.
The team released 42 players in all (see complete list at Elite Prospects). Most notably is Klim Kostin, drafted earlier this summer in the 1st round, 31st overall, by the St. Louis Blues. As reported earlier, Kostin is close to signing an ELC with the Blues following his release from Dynamo. Other recent former NHL draft picks include Yegor Zaitsev (2017 7th rd – New Jersey Devils) and Andrei Mironov (2015 4th rd – Colorado Avalanche).