With the NHL Lockout underway and showing no signs of ending quickly, almost 700 hockey players are out of a job and looking for work. While some of the league’s young guns like teammates Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle and Defenseman Adam Henrique were optioned to the AHL, players with one-way contracts are being forced to look overseas for work.
Almost immediately, some of the veterans from the Philadelphia Flyers squad have agreed to deals in Europe. Newly acquired Forward Ruslan Fedotenko was the first to go, signing with HC Donbass (Donetsk) of the KHL. Donbass is based out of Ukraine, and is the only Ukrainian team to take part in the Kontinental Hockey League. Joining Fedotenko is former Flyers Defenseman Oskars Bartulis and LW Alexi Ponikarovsky, who spent last season with the New Jersey Devils.
Czech Right Winger Jakub Voracek is heading over to Europe to play for a team in his home country, HC Lev Praha of the KHL. Like HC Donbass, Lev Praha is brand new to the Kontinental Hockey League, but is based out of Prague. Voracek will be accompanied by Detroit LW Jiri Hudler, who spent last season with the Detroit Red Wings, and signed a 4 year, $16 million contract with the Calgary Flames.
Flyers star goalie Ilya Bryzgalov his heading home to Russia to play for HC CSKA Moscow during the 2012 NHL Lockout. CSKA Moscow joined the KHL in 2008, and their GM happens to be former Detroit Sergei Fedorov, who spent 12 seasons with the Red Wings before bouncing around the NHL. Like Fedotenko and Voracek, Bryzgalov will be joined by a couple of NHLers. Pavel Datsyuk and Winger Alex Radulov will be playing with the team, and Radulov signed a four year contract worth $9.2 million a season with Moscow, after having issues with the Nashville Predators, his former club.
The Flyers are more likely to see another handful of players make the move to Europe. Nicklas Grossmann is rumored to be moving to Sweeden, Scott Hartnell has shown interest in playing in Europe, and is a part owner of KalPA, a team in which he co-owns with Kimmo Timonen and former Flyer Sami Kapanen. However, the biggest name of them all is Flyers star Claude Giroux, who reportedly signed with Evgeni Malkin’s Russian agent and is looking for a KHL Deal.
For the near future, expect to see some familiar faces in some very unfamiliar places.
Jake Pavorsky is a contributor to Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @JakePavorsky.