As the lockout wears on, players are looking at other leagues to play in.
Options became more limited when the Russian KHL league made it difficult for NHL players to sign with their teams. As the Hockey News points out, they are limited to three NHL players, but only one can be non-Russian. Beyond that, the lone non-Russian player also must have one of the following on their resume
-150 NHL games played over last three seasons
-Has played in the KHL before
-Has represented their country in one of the last two Olympics, World Championships or World Junior Championships
-Has played in a Stanley Cup Final
-Has won an individual NHL Award
Obviously those requirements knock out many players. The 150 game minimum might be the biggest road block as it hurts younger players. While established stars do sign overseas, it really is the younger players who flood the market.
They need more experience playing and they often are not playing under big contracts yet so they also need the pay. The KHL rules eliminate their league as being an option for them.
The Swedish Elite League originally ruled that their teams could not sign short term deals with locked-out players. A court ruling has overturned that decision now. This means that one of the elite hockey leagues in the world will be open to NHL players. It still remains to be seen how many teams will be willing to sign what may only be rental players.
While this list can change daily, here are the current plans for Red Wings players.
Pavel Datsyuk is playing with Sergei Fedorov’s team CSKA Moscow in the KHL.
Valtteri Filppula headed back to Jokerit in Finland.
Jakub Kindl will play for HC Pardubice in the Czech Republic.
Tomas Tatar is heading to Slovakia.
Jan Mursak will be playing in Austria.
Damien Brunner will play in the Swiss League for a few weeks, but intends to come back to Grand Rapids once their season starts. The one bright spot about the lockout is that it would give him time to adjust to the smaller rink and style of the NHL game before the season starts.
Brunner will be joined in Grand Rapids by Brendan Smith and Gustav Nyquist, who do not need to clear waivers in order to play in the minors.
Henrik Zetterberg and several other players will be staying in Detroit and working out together. Most of the established veterans are content with unofficial workouts and waiting for the lockout to end.
There are still other players that are weighing their options. Many of the younger players are looking for teams to join. If the lockout goes on for too long, or if the season is completely cancelled, expect even more players to make the jump overseas.
There is another possible options for players. A group of players from Quebec have formed a league and will play charity games with NHL players. If the lockout drags on for too long, it is easy to see players here doing the same.
Hopefully the battle of rich vs. rich will end quickly and the NHL season will begin without missing too much action.
PJ Sapienza is a featured columnist covering the Detroit Red Wings as well as many other sports.
You can follow him on Twitter.
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