Last summer, the Flyers thought they were getting top prospect Ivan Fedotov to play for them, inking him to a one-year deal. Instead, he wound up spending the season fulfilling his military obligations and did not suit up in a game. That permitted Philadelphia to toll the netminder’s contract, rolling it over to next season. However, in the meantime, Fedotov agreed to terms on a two-year deal with CSKA Moscow a while back on a deal beginning in 2023-24, hoping to stay overseas.
Earlier this week, Sport-Express in Russia reached out to the KHL for more information and they indicated that they asked the NHL to get clarification on Fedotov’s status. At that time, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly indicated that it is their opinion that Fedotov has a valid contract with the Flyers for the upcoming season. The NHL and KHL have previously operated with a Memorandum of Understanding between the two leagues, meaning one league can’t poach a signed player away from the other. The NHL suspended that agreement last year. Meanwhile, the KHL announced today that they disagree with the NHL’s assertion and have registered the contract for Fedotov with CSKA Moscow.
For the first time now, both leagues believe they have a legitimately-registered contract with Fedotov for the upcoming season, meaning they’re entering some uncharted territory when it comes to determining who is correct. The KHL’s announcement indicates that Fedotov’s clearly-stated preference is to remain in Russia.
The 26-year-old was drafted by the Flyers in the seventh round back in 2015 (188th overall) and has emerged as one of the top goalies in the KHL while putting up a stellar 1.61 GAA with a .943 SV% in the 2022 Olympics. Last summer, the plan was for him to serve as the backup to Carter Hart and when that option fell through, they turned to internal options Felix Sandstrom and Samuel Ersson.
Now, veteran Cal Petersen is also in the mix after the team took on his contract in a pre-draft three-way trade involving Los Angeles and Columbus. However, with two years and $10MM left on his contract, it’s safe to say that he would pass through waivers successfully next season if they needed to open up a roster spot for Fedotov should the NHL and Flyers prove successful in any hypothetical hearing to determine his fate and get him to North America for 2023-24.
Notably, Fedotov is only one year away from reaching NHL unrestricted free agency so if his long-term intention is to remain in Russia, if the NHL is able to enforce his contract with them, he could simply play out the season in North America and then head back to the KHL for 2024-25 and beyond. Alternatively, Fedotov’s camp may ask Philadelphia to simply do a mutual termination of his contract although doing so would mean that the Flyers would relinquish his NHL rights immediately.
The KHL’s decision today to register Fedotov’s contract is an important next step in the process of determining where the netminder will play next season. But with relations between the two leagues not at their best at the moment, it’d be surprising if this announcement was the end of the discussion as it relates to where Fedotov plays in 2023-24.