If current rumors are to be believed, some Calgary Flames news that had been assumed to be true for most of the season will soon be confirmed. Reports this week have defenseman Anton Babchuk heading to the KHL next season to play for Savalat Yulaev, which can’t be a huge surprise since he did not appear to be a part of the Flames’ future plans. Babchuk is the third former Flame to sign an overseas contract, as Roman Cervenka has signed a deal to head to the KHL and goaltender Danny Taylor will spend the next two seasons in Sweden.
Babchuk only appeared in seven games for the Flames this season, and managed only one assist. He scored eight goals while posting 27 points and a plus-18 rating during the 2010-11 season, but has struggled to come anywhere near those numbers since then. With the Flames looking to rebuild with younger talent, hanging on to an overpaid, underperforming player like Babchuk doesn’t make much sense.
Babchuk played in the KHL during the 2007-08 season (Omsk Avangard), the 2009-10 season (Omsk) and during the lockout (Donbass HC). His numbers over there haven’t been the most impressive, but if he was having trouble sticking with the lowly Flames he wasn’t likely to get much interest from other teams.
In 289 games with the Flames, Carolina Hurricanes and Chicago Blackhawks, Babchuk has scored 36 goals and has 107 points. He’s only 29 years old, but could possibly have played his last game in North America if he finds any kind of success in the KHL.