NHL players who are still overseas playing in European leagues will have to come back to North America now that the lockout is over.
There are still some star players who remain overseas or who have just recently made plans to return to their local NHL cities for the start of the 2012-13 season.
Here's a recap of those players.
Note: Updates will be made daily when players return from overseas.
UPDATE: Monday, January 7 at 12:39 p.m. ET by Nicholas Goss
According to Dave Pagnotta of The Fourth Period, a few more NHL stars should be back in North America over the next few days:
As I mentioned last night, Malkin is returning to Pittsburgh today, Voracek is flying to Philly Tuesday, Ovechkin should be in DC Tue/Wed— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) January 7, 2013
Voracek, Malkin and Ovechkin all played in the KHL during the lockout, which will help them make a smooth transition to the NHL because the KHL is the second most competitive league in the world.
---End of Update---
Pittsburgh Penguins superstar center and reigning Hart Trophy winner Evgeni Malkin was one of the best players in the KHL this season for Russian team Metallurg Magnitogorsk. According to Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, he is on his way back to North America:
Rossi (@RobRossi_Trib) January 6, 2013
Malkin finishes his stay in Russia ranked second in the KHL in points and first in assists. Now that Malkin and teammate Sidney Crosby are both healthy again, Penguins fans have expectations of another Stanley Cup title this season.
According to Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun, Ottawa Senators star Jason Spezza is coming home:
The Senators centre has informed the Rapperswil-Jona Lakers he will not be returning to the Swiss Elite League club — at least for now — after winning the Spengler Cup with Team Canada Monday. Spezza will return to Ottawa to see if there's going to be a collective bargaining agreement in place for a shortened NHL season.
Spezza is one of the league's best offensive players, and his 84 points (34 goals and 50 assists) last year ranked fourth among all players.
The Senators need another great season from their top-line center if the team is to return to the Eastern Conference playoffs after earning the eighth seed last year.
Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara is also on his way back to North America, according to CSNNE.com's Joe Haggerty:
CSNNE is reporting Zdeno Chara was pulled out of his KHL game today & is headed to Boston tomorrow per his agent Matt Keator. Good news— Joe Haggerty (@HackswithHaggs) January 6, 2013
The 35-year-old defenseman played well in the KHL for HC Lev Praha during the lockout and was selected to the league's All-Star game.
He will be expected to anchor a strong Boston blue line that will likely add top prospect Dougie Hamilton to the mix this season.
In addition to his spectacular defensive play, Chara has scored at least 43 points in each of his six seasons with the Bruins.
Marian Gaborik spent a lot of the summer recovering from offseason surgery, but he will soon be flying home from Europe to join the New York Rangers for the upcoming season, according to Larry Brooks of the New York Post:
Gaborik had returned home to Slovakia for holidays, will be on way back pronto. Otherwise all Rangers in North America.— Larry Brooks(@NYP_Brooksie) January 6, 2013
The Rangers forward has scored 40 goals or more three times in the last five seasons, and he is the team's most talented offensive player.
If Gaborik is healthy this season and isn't bothered by an injury during the playoffs, the Rangers will be the favorite to win the Eastern Conference.