Despite still pending legal matters regarding his 2014 arrest and three full seasons away from North America, Slava Voynov is attempting a comeback. The latest developments in his situation are examined thoroughly by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, who claims that there is real interest from teams around the league. That would require a California court expunging his previous plea of no-contest to corporal injury to a spouse, acquiring a work visa for the United States, and being granted re-instatement from the league. None of these things are certain at this point, but he has a court hearing on July 2nd to get the process moving.
Friedman also reports that even if Voynov is given re-instatement he likely will face further discipline from the league, explaining that “no team that takes him is going to get him free and clean.” Though he’s referring to potential suspension or other discipline, there is also obviously the potential public relations disaster that any team willing to give him a contract would face. It’s not clear what the reaction would be from fans, but it won’t be an easy contract to sign even for a small market team.
Voynov, 28, is a talented puck-moving right-handed defenseman who is still in his prime and recently won an Olympic gold medal with the Russian team. He has two Stanley Cups already, and was an excellent player for the Los Angeles Kings early in his career. Drafted 32nd-overall in 2008, he was paying off huge dividends for the Kings and looked like a key part of their future. If those skills haven’t diminished—and his success in the KHL and internationally suggests they haven’t—he could help nearly every team in the league. Whether he’ll be given that chance is still far from decided, but his intent is certainly there to return at some point in the 2018-19 season.
Even if re-instatement does happen and a team wants to sign Voynov, they’d have to go through the Kings to do it. Just like with Ilya Kovalchuk last offseason, the Kings still own Voynov’s rights as he’s currently on their Voluntary Retirement List. The team could sign him themselves, or work out a sign-and-trade with another team.