NHL Lockout 2012: Updates on Player Signings Overseas

Nicholas Goss@@NicholasGoss35Correspondent ISeptember 16, 2012

PHILADELPHIA - DECEMBER 17:  Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates his second period goal against the Philadelphia Flyers with teammate Evgeni Malkin #71 on December 17, 2009 at Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

NHL players and agents have been looking at playing options overseas for weeks, but now that the NHL lockout is in progress, expect players to make some decisions on playing in Europe over the next few days.

There are several notable NHL players who have already signed a deal with an overseas team, or have expressed interest in playing outside of North America.

Let's look at the latest updates on these players.

UPDATE: Tuesday, Dec. 4 at 4:15 p.m. ET by Ben Chodos

Dallas Stars left winger Loui Eriksson is the latest NHL player to sign with Swiss team HC Davos. 

Pro Hockey Talk's Mike Halford cited a report from Swiss website HockeyFans.ch confirming Eriksson's move. 

The 27-year-old Swede had 26 goals and 45 assists for the Stars and was honored with an All-Star selection. As Halford notes, he will join fellow All-Stars Rick Nash and Joe Thornton at Davos. 

---End of update---

UPDATE: November 28 at 10 a.m. ET

Canucks goalie Cory Schneider is heading to the Swiss league, according to TSN's Staff.

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Cory Schneider is the latest locked out National Hockey League player to head overseas.

According to the team's website, the 26-year-old will join HC Ambri Piotta of the Swiss league.  Because Schneider is a dual US/Swiss citizen he doesn't count as an import.

Schneider is expected to suit up for his first practice with his new team on Thursday.

---End of Update---

UPDATE: Tuesday, October 23 at 2:30 p.m. ET by Timothy Rapp

Another major star is heading overseas. This time, it's Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks:

Excited and thankful to join EHC Biel in the Swiss league. Looking forward to the experience

— Patrick Kane (@88PKane) October 23, 2012

Don't be surprised to see another run of stars announce they'll be playing overseas. As a full season looks lost and te prospect of any hockey this year continues to look somewhat bleak, I expect any players who haven't already made the move across the pond will do so soon.

---End of Update---

UPDATE: Thursday, October 18 at 1:20 p.m. ET by Timothy Rapp

Nicklas Backstrom has interesting timing. On the day that the NHLPA will respond to the CBA offer put forth by the owners, he's signed to play overseas.

The news was broken by Swedish news outlet SVT (Sveriges Television), but that's in Swedish, so we'll let Mike Halford of Pro Hockey Talk translate:

Big news out of Washington today as the NHLPA plans to respond to the latest CBA offer—Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom has reportedly agreed to join KHL team Dynamo Moscow, the same team that currently employs Alex Ovechkin.

I guess he doesn't have confidence the players will take the deal, who knows?

---End of Update---

UPDATE: Monday, October 8 at 10:22 a.m. ET by Nicholas Goss

According to Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press, Detroit Red Wings star forward Henrik Zetterberg is headed for Switzerland while the lockout continues.

Per Swiss news, Henrik Zetterberg will play with Switzerland's EV Zug. Zetterberg going overseas indicates lockout will go long. #RedWings

— Helene St. James (@HeleneStJames) October 8, 2012

Zetterberg played in the Swedish Elite League during the last lockout, so it's a little surprising that he isn't going back there this time, especially since Sweden is his home country.

However, a quick read of this entire article will show you that Zetterberg is one of many NHL superstars who have chosen to play in Switzerland during the work stoppage.

UPDATE: Thursday, October 4 at 8:29 a.m. ET by Nicholas Goss

According to Dmitry Chesnokov of Yahoo Sports!, Winnipeg Jets captain Andrew Ladd is headed for the KHL.

#KHL Avangard officially announced the signing of #Jets Andrew Ladd.

— Dmitry Chesnokov (@dchesnokov) October 4, 2012

Jets forward Evander Kane is also playing in the KHL, and the two of them will play against each other later this month if the lockout continues.

#jets teammates are scheduled to faceoff in the KHL on Oct. 22, when Avangard Omsk (Andrew Ladd) plays Dinamo Minsk (Evander Kane).

— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) October 4, 2012

---End of Update---

UPDATE: Wednesday, October 3 at 3:15 p.m. ET by Timothy Rapp

According to the Boston Herald, David Krejci is headed to the Czech Republic.

Bruins forward David Krejci is expected to finally sign a contract to play for HC Pardubice of Extra Liga in the Czech Republic tomorrow, according to a source close to the player.

The source also confirmed previous reports that the delay in the signing was due to Krejci’s inability to secure a large insurance policy before now.

No surprises here. We knew the NHL players would travel overseas and dig in for a potentially lengthy lockout, and one by one they are doing just that.

---End of Update---

UPDATE: Wednesday, October 3, 9:18 a.m. ET by Nicholas Goss

According to Linus Hugosson of Pro Hockey Magazine, Colorado Avalanche forwards Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog will play in Sweden during the lockout, but for separate teams.

Djurgarden now confirming they have reached an agreement with Gabriel Landeskog. #avs #nhl

— Linus Hugosson (@linushugosson) October 3, 2012

Matt Duchene has signed with Frolunda of the Swedish Elite League. #avs #NHLse

— Linus Hugosson (@linushugosson) October 2, 2012

These young Avalanche stars are among the first notable NHL players to join Swedish teams during the current work stoppage. The level of competition in Sweden is quite high, so Duchene and Landeskog will be well prepared for the 2012-13 NHL season if/when it gets underway.

---End of Update---

UPDATE: Tuesday, October 2, 5:27 p.m. ET by Ian Hanford

According to The Fourth Period's David Pagnotta, Bruins center Patrice Bergeron will take his talents to Switzerland for the time being:

HC Lugano (Swiss League) has signed Bruins center Patrice Bergeron. A source said they opted to sign him, because he can pass for Italian.

— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) October 2, 2012

---End of Update---

UPDATE: Tuesday, October 2, 9:32 a.m. ET by Nicholas Goss

Two more NHL stars are headed overseas to play hockey during the lockout. According to Dmitry Chesnokov of Yahoo Sports!, Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara will play in the KHL.

According to reports in the Czech media (quoting team official) #Bruins Zdeno Chara is set to join Lev of the #KHL.

— Dmitry Chesnokov (@dchesnokov) October 2, 2012

Dallas Stars forward Jamie Benn will play in Germany, according to Matias Strozyk of Elite Prospects.

Jamie Benn to Hamburg Freezers. #NHL #Stars

— Matias Strozyk (@MaStrozyk) October 2, 2012

Chara is from Slovakia, and was expected by many to play overseas during the lockout. He played in Sweden during the last work stoppage. Not many players have gone to Germany since the lockout began, but Benn will certainly be a huge star in Hamburg.

Since the KHL has a new deal with ESPN, we could see more player go overseas in the next few days.

---End of Update---

UPDATE: Monday, October 1, 11:50 a.m. ET by Donald Wood 

Buffalo Sabres star left wing Thomas Vanek has decided to head back to his native Austria to play hockey during the lockout with the Graz 99ers, according to Sky Sports News.

Vanek grew up in Graz, and based on reports from the Buffalo News, the star forward could find himself with the team as early as Thursday.

With another top player in the NHL going overseas to play, the league’s concerns over injuries has to be mounting. It’s not just one or two teams anymore, either.

Almost every NHL team has one or more of their elite players traveling overseas to play hockey, but how their health holds up should have owners ready to make a deal.

It won’t, though.

---End of Update---

UPDATE: Friday, Sept. 28 at 2:24 p.m. ET by Justin Welton

Chris Johnston of The Canadian Press is reporting that Winnipeg Jets' left winger Evander Kane has reached an agreement with Dinamo Minsk of the KHL.

Dinamo Minsk says it has reached an agreement with Evander Kane. He's the first locked-out Canadian player headed to the KHL.

— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) September 28, 2012 

Kane scored 30 goals and added 27 assists in 2011, and he is one of the bright spots on a franchise looking to restore history in Winnipeg heading into its second season after leaving Atlanta. 

While the NHL meets today, more and more players are heading overseas. Hopefully seeing young stars like Kane risk their health overseas will push these conversations forward rather than backwards. 

---End of Update---

UPDATE: Friday, Sept. 28 at 9:10 a.m. ET by Justin Welton

According to the Associated Press, Islanders' star center and the first overall selection in the 2009 NHL Draft John Tavares has joined Swiss hockey club Bern. 

Tavares will play alongside fellow Islander Mark Streit while the NHL is locked out. 

Another year, another lockout. It's incredibly sad to see the NHL go through this again, but hopefully they can rectify things so we can see hockey in North America this season. 

---End of Update---

UPDATE: Tuesday, September 25 at 3:00 p.m. ET by Ben Chodos

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman is the latest player to sign with KHL team during the NHL's work stoppage.

TheFourthPeriod.com reported that Hedman will sign with HC Barys in Kazakhstan. 

The report notes that the 21-year-old is the only player on his team to sign overseas, but will join Winnipeg Jets center Nikolai Antropov pm the KHL team.

---End of Update---

UPDATE: Tuesday, September 25 at 2:00 p.m. ET by Adam Wells

Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne is on his way overseas to join Dinamo Minsk, according to agent Jay Grossman.

Pekka Rinne will re-join former Karpat goalie coach Ari Hilly with Dinamo Minsk/Belarus

— Jay Grossman (@Jay_Grossman) September 25, 2012

Rinne led the NHL in wins last season with 43 despite posting the second-worst goals against average (2.39) of his career. 

---End of Update---

UPDATE: Tuesday, September 25 at 11:55 a.m. ET by Nicholas Goss

Carolina Hurricanes forward Alexander Semin is not going to wait for the NHL and its players to complete a new CBA, and will head overseas to play in Russia, according to Pavel Lysenkov of Sovietsky Sport.

Alex Semin's salary in Sokol will be about $1600 US per month (min for VHL). You could be proud if your salary higher. #canes #caps

— Pavel Lysenkov (@plysenkov) September 25, 2012

Semin was one player many expected to play in Russia as soon as it became clear that there was going to be another lockout. Playing overseas will allow him to be ready for when the Hurricanes' training camp opens, which we all hope will be in the near future.

---End of Update---

UPDATE: Thursday, September 20 at 10:48 a.m. ET by Nicholas Goss

According to David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period, Bruins forward Tyler Seguin is going to play in Switzerland during the lockout.

I've received confirmation that Bruins star Tyler Seguin has officially signed with EHC Biel of the Swiss League

— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) September 20, 2012

This will be Seguin's first experience playing professionally for a European team. However, he's not the only Bruins forward expected to leave for Europe during the lockout.

According to Joe Haggerty of CSN New England, Bruins forward David Krejci is also likely to go overseas.

David Krejci said deal isnt 100 percent done, but reports are true: he'll be leaving to play in the Czech League in next few wks #BruinsTalk

— Joe Haggerty (@HackswithHaggs) September 18, 2012

Krejci was born in the Czech Republic, so this news comes as no surprise.

---End of Update---

UPDATE: Wednesday, September 19 at 8:49 p.m. ET by Ryan Rudnansky

Andy Strickland of TrueHockey.com confirmed on Wednesday that Vladimir Tarasenko signed with SKA St. Petersburg.

Strickland tweeted:

Confirming Vladimir Tarasenko has signed with SKA St. Petersburg...left today #stlblues #KHL

— Andy Strickland (@andystrickland) September 19, 2012

---End of Update---

UPDATE: Wednesday, September 19 at 11:10 a.m. ET by Nicholas Goss

According to Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun, Jason Spezza will take his talents to Europe during the NHL lockout.

The Senators centre became the latest in a long line of NHL players to head overseas by signing a deal with Rapperswil in the Swiss Elite League Wednesday morning.

Spezza played in the AHL during the last lockout, and won the league's MVP award. He joins Rick Nash, Joe Thornton and Logan Couture as star NHL players who have signed with Swiss teams since the start of the lockout.

---End of Update---

UPDATE: Tuesday, September 18 at 3:20 p.m. ET by Adam Wells

Despite previous reports that he would not be taking his talent overseas to play, Washington Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin is going to join Dynamo Moscow, according to a report from Sport-Express (via TSN). 

According to the Russian newspaper Sport-Express, the Washington Capitals captain will play with Dynamo Moscow of the Kontinental Hockey League.

Ovechkin, who turned 27 on Monday, also played for Dynamo from 2001-05. He was rumoured to also be in talks last week to play for CSKA Moscow during the lockout.

With the NHL Lockout showing no signs of ending, Ovechkin is smart to go back home to play. He can dominate over there for awhile, then can return after the lockout ends with more confidence than he showed last season. 

---End of Update---

UPDATE: Tuesday, September 18, 10:46 a.m. ET by Nicholas Goss

Add Niklas Backstrom to the list of players headed overseas. Here is the latest on Backstrom's plans, according to RIA Novosti.

Minnesota Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom has agreed to play for Dynamo Minsk as the lockout drags on, the KHL team announced Tuesday.

"Niklas is a student of our goalie coach Ari Hilly," the team’s sports director Igor Matushkin said on its website.

Backstrom and Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov are two high-profile netminders who have been linked to KHL teams this month.

Luckily for the Wild, they have a capable starter in Josh Harding who could replace Backstrom if he got hurt playing in the KHL during the lockout.

---End of Update---

UPDATE: Monday, September 17, 2:00 p.m. ET by Donald Wood 

Rick Nash

While the NHL lockout appears to be nowhere near a conclusion—with both sides bunkering down for the long haul—another huge star, New York Rangers star Rick Nash, is reportedly signing overseas.

ESPN’s NHL insider Katie Strang is reporting where Nash will be taking his talents during the offseason:

#NYR According to multiple sources, Rangers' Rick Nash is heading to Switzerland to play in Davos

— Katie Strang (@KatieStrangESPN) September 17, 2012

Stang has said that Nash is going overseas to stay sharp for when the season does start, and that may be the motivation for many of the players going overseas. The problem is that while playing, these megastars are risking injuries that could hurt their NHL careers.

---End of Update---

Joe Thornton and Logan Couture

The San Jose Sharks were ready to take another crack at a Stanley Cup, but the lockout is sending two of the franchise’s best stars to Europe. Captain Joe Thornton and young star Logan Couture have both been rumored to be signing overseas.

NHL insider Josh Rimer is reporting on where Couture plans to play during the lockout:

Just Spoke with Logan Couture who's close to signing deal to play with Geneva in Swiss League. #Sharks

— Josh Rimer (@JoshRimerHockey) September 17, 2012

ESPN.com NHL columnist Pierre LeBrun is reporting on Thornton returning to the team he spent the last lockout with:

Blog will be up later today but just spoke with Joe Thornton who says he'll head back to Davos again to play in Swiss League.

— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) September 17, 2012

With such a huge number of players going elsewhere to play hockey, NHL owners have to be terrified of injuries for their biggest names. This is a ploy from the NHLPA to gain more leverage in the negotiations, and it will begin to work as time continues to pass.

Evgeni Malkin and Sergei Gonchar

As expected, Pittsburgh Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin and Ottawa Senators defenseman Sergei Gonchar have signed with Magnitigorsk of the KHL (via Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun), and are wasting no time in getting onto the ice with their new team (via Darren Dreger of TSN).

The signings of Sergei Gonchar and Evgeni Malkin in Magnitogorsk were made official this morning. #Sens #Pens #NHL

— Bruce Garrioch (@SunGarrioch) September 16, 2012

Malkin and Gonchar practiced with Magnitigorsk today. They will likely play their first game on Sept. 20th vs Ufa.

— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) September 14, 2012

Expect several other NHL players to join Malkin and Gonchar in the KHL this season.

Sidney Crosby

Everyone is anticipating Crosby's decision on whether to play somewhere during the lockout, but it doesn't appear that he will play with his Penguins teammate, according to Pavel Lysenkov of Sovietsky Sport.

No Crosby in Magnitogorsk with Malkin. Kulemin will be third NHL player. But no contract yet. #Pens

— Pavel Lysenkov (@plysenkov) September 16, 2012

Lysenkov mentions that Kulemin would be Magnitogorsk's third NHL player, which is significant because that's the maximum amount of NHL players that KHL teams can sign during the lockout.

Pavel Datsyuk

Slava Malamud of Sport-Express reports that Detroit Red Wings star Pavel Datsyuk has signed with a KHL team.

Pavel Datsyuk has signed with Ak Bars. Not surprising. His old team #RedWings

— Slava Malamud (@SlavaMalamud) September 16, 2012

Datsyuk last played for Ak-Bars during the 2000-01 season, which was his last season overseas before coming to the NHL.

Ilya Bryzgalov and Alexander Ovechkin

According to Lysenkov and Dmitry Chesnokov of Yahoo! Sports, Washington Capitals captain Alexander Ovechkin and Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov could be teammates on KHL club CSKA.

Bryz may be another CSKA player as well RT @plysenkov: My info - Ovechkin will not play in Dynamo. 99% - CSKA.

— Dmitry Chesnokov (@dchesnokov) September 16, 2012

Bryzgalov and Ovechkin played on the Russian Olympic hockey team in Vancouver two years ago, and would significantly improve CSKA's chances of winning the KHL.

Jaromir Jagr and Tomas Plekanec

According to Chesnokov, Dallas Stars forward Jaromir Jagr and Montreal Canadiens forward Tomas Plekanec will play for Kladno of the Czech Republic league Czech Extraliga.

Jagr and Plekanec will play for Kladno during the lockout the club announced.

— Dmitry Chesnokov (@dchesnokov) September 16, 2012

It's no surprise that Jagr is playing for Kladno since they are his childhood club. He played for them in 1989 and 1990 before coming to the NHL after being drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins. He also played for them during the 1995 and 2005 lockouts.

Kris Letang

Although there aren't too many details yet, defenseman Kris Letang might be another Penguins player who could go to Russia, according to Chesnokov.

I am told #Pens Letang may also end up in the #KHL.

— Dmitry Chesnokov (@dchesnokov) September 16, 2012

Nail Yakupov

The No. 1 pick in the 2012 NHL draft cannot play for the Edmonton Oilers right now, so he's going to play in his native Russia, according to Lysenkov.

Nail Yakupov will play for "Neftekhimik" (Nizhnekamsk). Tomorrow - arrive to Russia, First game could be 19th in Nizhni Novgorod.

— Pavel Lysenkov (@plysenkov) September 16, 2012

Neftekhimik is a KHL team playing in the Kharlamov Division of the Eastern Conference.

Alexander Semin

Carolina Hurricanes star Alexander Semin has options in the KHL, according to Lysenkov:

My guess - Ovechkin will play for CSKA there Fedorov is GM. Together with Semin.

— Pavel Lysenkov (@plysenkov) August 26, 2012

Sergei Federov played with Semin for two seasons on the Washington Capitals from 2007-08 through 2008-09.

Ilya Kovalchuk

UPDATE: Monday, September 17 at 9:04 a.m. ET by Nicholas Goss

Ilya Kovalchuk's move to the KHL should be completed on Tuesday, reports Dmitry Chesnokov of Yahoo Sports!.

#KHL's SKA (@hcska) officially announced #NJDevils Ilya Kovalchuk will sign with the club tomorrow.

— Dmitry Chesnokov (@dchesnokov) September 17, 2012

---End of Update---

The New Jersey Devils forward appears to be joining SKA St. Petersburg, according to Lysenkov.

Ilya Kovalchuk will play for SKA SPb. It's pure 100% info. #NJDevils

— Pavel  

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