NHL Lockout: 3 Players Who Need to Go Overseas Right Now
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As the NHL lockout continues, the entire hockey world waits to see if anything comes of the last spate of meetings the league had with the NHLPA. Optimism is beginning to fade with each passing day. So would certain players finally signing to play overseas put more pressure on both sides to reach a deal?
Most players with the intent of going to Europe or Russia while this whole ordeal continues have already done so.
The likes of Alexander Ovechkin, Pavel Datsyuk and Rick Nash have all "jumped ship" since the lockout was announced on September 15, even though most of these leagues can't pay these players like the NHL can.
However, they're also not attracting so many stars by offering them chump change.
Let's take a look at three players who've yet to take their services elsewhere, but may reconsider if there's no agreement in the next few days.
1. Henrik Lundqvist
Lundqvist played five seasons in the Swedish Elitserien before coming to the NHL.
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New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist started his career in the Swedish Elite League (Elitserien), so it shouldn't come as a shock that he's going back there if an agreement can't be reached.
According to Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo! Sports, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner will play with Frolunda HC if the NHL season is canceled. He turned pro with them back in 2000.
It's surprising that someone with his international background isn't already suiting up overseas.
If a deal is made and there's a shortened campaign, teams will be playing within 10 days. That's not a lot of time to get into midseason form. Especially when the condensed schedule will magnify the importance of each game.
It wouldn't hurt Lundqvist to get in a few "warm-up" contests while negotiations continue.
2. Steven Stamkos
Stamkos became the first player in four years to score 60 goals in 2011-12.
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Tampa Bay Lightning superstar Steven Stamkos has also had informal discussions to play in Europe.
However, as he told Damian Cristodero of the Tampa Bay Times, he's holding off on that decision for now:
I'm going to see what happens in the next two or three weeks before I go any further.
It's obvious that these big-name players are staying in shape as this whole thing drags on. Yet, nothing compares to actually competing against someone else.
Stamkos' game has grown leaps and bounds over the last two years. The Lightning definitely want him to carry that momentum into this season.
If nothing else, a Canadian-born star of his ilk who has no history of playing outside of North America could put pressure on the league to make a deal by lacing them up outside the NHL.
3. Sidney Crosby
Crosby has taken an active role in the negotiations.
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As the NHL's most recognizable player, Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby would be by far the biggest name to take his talents elsewhere when and if he decides to do that.
Crosby has been heavily involved with the NHLPA in its discussions with the league.
Because of that, it shouldn't be lost on him as to how influential his persona is in the hockey world.
As Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo! Sports puts it:
This isn't Ovechkin going back home to Russia. This is Canada's favorite son potentially boosting the profile of another league while the NHL is at a standstill. Vincent Lecavalier left for Europe back in 2004-05, right after winning the Cup. Multiply that impact about 100-fold, and you'll get close to Crosby leaving for Europe.
Even if he has no intentions of doing so, publicly leaking that he's on the verge of signing overseas could prove to be a huge bargaining chip for the players.
At a time when both sides are pulling out all the stops to sway public opinion toward their position, nothing should be out of consideration at this point.