With three of the four major European leagues having wrapped up their postseasons and the NHL and AHL winding down their regular seasons, there are a vast number of players now looking ahead to next season. While most players under contract in North America are still months away from free agency, there are many overseas that are free to move and decide on the next step in their careers. Here are some of those recent moves with NHL implications:
- A pair of notable forward prospects have found their new home for the next several seasons. Liiga club KalPa has announced multi-year contracts with 2020 draft picks Kasper Simontaival and Jaromir Pytlik. Simontaival, a third-round selection of the Los Angeles Kings, is no stranger to the Finnish pros. The local product has spent time in the Liiga with Tappara over the past few years, but is seemingly looking to move on from his developmental club. Simontaival appears willing to take his time developing at home, signing a three-year deal with KalPa, but has already shown some potential NHL-caliber offensive skill. Pytlik, a fourth-round pick of the New Jersey Devils, is new to Finland but just eager to play after waiting for the OHL all season, only playing in a handful of international tournament games and Czech second-tier games. The big, two-way forward has signed a two-year deal with KalPa and will look to contribute in all scenarios for the club.
- 2021 NHL Draft prospect Fyodor Svechkov has been traded in the KHL, or rather sold. Lada Togliatti announced today that they have moved their young standout to powerhouse SKA St. Petersburg in exchange for “monetary compensation.” Svechkov signed a three-year extension with Lada before this season, meaning SKA will have him under contract through the 2022-23 season. Given his draft stock, that may be all they get. Svechkov is projected by many to be a first-round pick this summer and helped his case by dominating the Russian junior and minor league ranks this season. The skilled and versatile forward could be an early selection that a team may want to rush to North America as soon as possible. SKA will have to find a spot in their veteran roster for Svechkov sooner rather than later if they want to maximize their investment.
- Has Igor Bobkov had enough of dominating the KHL? The Gagarin Cup-winning goaltender has been granted a contract termination by the recently-crowned champions, Avangard Omsk announced. A well-respected and well-compensated KHL netminder, it stands to reason that this move likely points toward Bobkov giving the NHL another shot. A 2009 draft pick of the Anaheim Ducks, Bobkov spent two seasons in the OHL and three seasons in the pros, split between the AHL and ECHL. Unhappy with his role and trajectory, Bobkov returned to Russia in 2015. Since then, he has become a three-time KHL All-Star with a career .923 save percentage and 2.09 GAA, including a GAA of 2.01 or lower in each of the past three seasons. The 30-year-old is one of, if not the best goalie in the KHL right now and could be eyeing a return to the NHL with a more established resume and plenty of gas in the tank.