Be Less Naïve

radulov

KHL contracts have essentially no value. This topic comes up because yet again rumours that Jaromir Jagr wants to get out of his KHL contract and return to the NHL next season have cropped up. Yet again, the Edmonton Oilers are the rumoured front-runner for his services.

Say what you will about Jagr – and people like Robin Brownlee have said that he wouldn’t sign him, but whatever you do, don’t play the “he has a KHL contract” card, as Kevin Lowe and Alexander Medvedev did in denying the rumours. Some journalists have even suggested that KHL rules are a stumbling block to getting players out of Russia.

The point that I want folks to be crystal clear on is that the KHL’s rules don’t matter in the slightest. Why should they? NHL contracts have not been respected by the KHL.

Alexander Radulov, to use the obvious example, was under contract to the Nashville Predators for a little less than a million dollars this season. Despite having signed a legal contract with no out clause, Radulov was signed by Ufa Salavat of the KHL, with protests by the NHL and Nashville Predators falling on deaf ears.

There are other examples. The Carolina Hurricanes saw two players on NHL/AHL contracts poached by KHL teams, including ex-Oiler Dan Lacouture. The KHL used the first pretext they could to break their deal with the NHL, and as a result they consider players with NHL contracts fair game.

The KHL does not view an NHL contract as an impediment to signing a player. For that reason alone, the NHL has no obligation to respect KHL contracts.

I’m on the fence about Jagr – unlike Brownlee, I think he could be a useful addition to the team. Like Brownlee, though, I think $7 million is far too much money. I am, however, under no illusions that Jagr’s KHL contract will keep him in Russia.

  • Hippy

    I'd hate to see us sign Jagr for some ridiculous amount, and then miss out on a younger (still got-it) type forward like Hossa. I said something similar in RB's post the other day, but these kind of Twilight signings are better suited to a city that needs a big name to draw ticket sales – not nessesarily to put up huge numbers or win when it counts. We don't need that here.

  • Hippy

    The Menace wrote:

    I’d hate to see us sign Jagr for some ridiculous amount, and then miss out on a younger (still got-it) type forward like Hossa. I said something similar in RB’s post the other day, but these kind of Twilight signings are better suited to a city that needs a big name to draw ticket sales – not nessesarily to put up huge numbers or win when it counts. We don’t need that here.

    I think the idea is that the team realizes that chances of landing Hossa are .00001% so if you actually have a chance at a high end talent, you take it.

  • Hippy

    Ducey wrote:

    Well I don’t think it is that simple. If the NHL tried to sue in Russian courts (where they would have to sue the KHL) they are not likely to get much of a fair hearing (assuming that inducing a breach of contract is even available as a cause of action there). If the KHL sued the NHL in a Canadian or American court, they would get a fair hearing. The NHL couldn’t exactly say “they did it too” as a defence.
    There is still a good chance of players coming back from Russia at their own insistence. I expect any NHL team is going to make sure they would not be held liable for inducing the player to come back to the NHL.

    You're probably right that it isn't quite that simple, but the RSL (the KHL's predecessor) showed a remarkable unwillingness to fight battles in North American courts, and based on Medvedev's public statements, I'd be very surprised if he were willing to change that policy.

    I'm not a lawyer, so I probably shouldn't state my position so strongly, but I very much doubt that if an NHL club sees an opportunity to improve that they'd let a KHL contract stop them.

  • Hippy

    Chris wrote:

    @ Jonathan Willis:
    Numbers aside… when you watch a game do you get the feeling Gagner will grow to be a first line center?

    Not sure what Jonathan will say, but for the past while our second line has been our first line if you judge lines by their relative effectiveness.

  • Hippy

    Chris wrote:

    @ Jonathan Willis:
    Numbers aside… when you watch a game do you get the feeling Gagner will grow to be a first line center?

    His drive to win will make him a 1st line player that is besides his skill. I have never seen someone as small as Gagner battle for pucks so hard. He never quits. I think Gagner will be a 80-90 point guy if he would start the season like he finishes.

  • Hippy

    @ Chris:

    On the whole I'd say yes. Gagner's a very, very smart player and he's still very young; additionally he doesn't seem shy about venturing into puck battles. He has his horrible miscues, and sometimes I think the effort lags a little bit, but I'm optimisitic.

  • Hippy

    Jonathan Willis wrote:

    @ Chris:
    On the whole I’d say yes. Gagner’s a very, very smart player and he’s still very young; additionally he doesn’t seem shy about venturing into puck battles. He has his horrible miscues, and sometimes I think the effort lags a little bit, but I’m optimisitic.

    Most of Gagner's faults are related to Experience and physical strengths. Both thing that will come in the next 2/3 years.

  • Hippy

    @ Jonathan Willis:
    I've noticed the accuracy of Gagner's passing drops when he is on the rush… drops a lot. Gagner also lacks a powerful shot- Not attributes of a quality offensive first line center. Will age address these concerns? I'm not sure. I see Gagner emerging as a PP specialist and quality playmaking #2 center… If Gagner's the best center you got… I don't think your team will win many cups.

  • Hippy

    @ Chris:

    Gagner seems likely to always be more of a playmaker than a shooter, but he's crafty and the fact that he charges the net is really encouraging. Time will tell of course, since I'm undoubtedly predisposed to optimism.

    The journey should be fun.

  • Hippy

    swany wrote:

    His drive to win will make him a 1st line player that is besides his skill. I have never seen someone as small as Gagner battle for pucks so hard. He never quits. I think Gagner will be a 80-90 point guy if he would start the season like he finishes.

    I'm not going so far as to make a prediction like that, but in my estimation Sam is definitely special. In fact, it seems his level of competitiveness has increased since last year. And his "never quit" attitude? Off the charts.

    He's still growing into his adult body. My guess is he'll be 15 or twenty pounds to the good next year. If Sam's getting casual fans excited, imagine how a guy like MacT must be feeling. The kid's gonna be good. Real good.

  • Hippy

    With a .6PPG season at 18 odds are he'll put up better #'s at 28.

    The only guy I can think of that peaked out offensively in his teens was Daigle (baring injury) everyone else that broke in before 20 (that I can think of) improved dramitically into his early/mid 20's.

    History is certainly on our/Sam's side.