Recently, Sport.Buisness-gazeta out of Russia published a list of players that were expected to leave the NHL this summer and return to the KHL. The list was made up of Nikolai Kulemin, Victor Antipin, Nikita Soshnikov, Rinat Valiev, Sergey Tolchinsky, Radel Fazleev, Andrey Pedan, Yaroslav Dyblenko, Sergei Boykov, Yakov Trenin and Anton Slepyshev. With the news this morning of Dyblenko’s pending contract termination, another one of the players have been confirmed to be returning. When added to the already confirmed exits of Tolchinsky, Valiev and others, it lends credibility to the entire list, meaning several others will likely be announced in the coming days.
Players like Soshnikov and Antipin were expected to be contributors to their NHL squads in 2018-19, but are both pending restricted free agents meaning they can easily go home if they so choose. For the NHL club, extending a qualifying offer will retain the exclusive negotiating rights with the player going forward, rights that won’t expire because of the lack of a transfer agreement between the two leagues.
- The Edmonton Oilers are set to select 10th in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft, but as Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal writes, GM Peter Chiarelli has made it clear they will explore trading the pick. Connor McDavid is already one of the best players in the league, and the Oilers need to take advantage of these prime years while they have them. Their defense corps just wasn’t good enough this season, and whoever they would take this season likely wouldn’t be ready to contribute until 2019-20 at the earliest. The Oilers have plenty of other tough decisions to make this summer, as they face contract negotiations with Darnell Nurse and Ryan Strome, and the daunting task of providing some support for McDavid up front. The team has already brought in some competition for Cam Talbot in the form of Mikko Koskinen, who cost the team a one-year $2.5MM contract.
- Speaking of draft picks who won’t make an impact next season, Mike McMahon of College Hockey News is reporting that the plan right now is for Brady Tkachuk to return to Boston University for his sophomore season. Tkachuk is expected to be a top-5 pick in the upcoming entry draft, and could still obviously be convinced by an NHL team to leave school early. That may change the draft board for some of the top teams who want to compete in 2018-19 and are hoping for a player who can step right into the league in October.