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.