Will NHL Restricted Free Agents Consider the KHL?

Spector’s Hockey Ponders RFAs Option of Using the KHL

Center Ryan O’Reilly currently remains in the midst of a contract standoff with the Colorado Avalanche, with reports out of Denver suggesting there’s no end in sight.

Until last week, O’Reilly was playing with his brother for Metallurg Magnitogorsk of Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League, in the first year of a two-year contract paying him $4 million per season. He and the club mutually agreed to terminate the contract so he could return to North America to receive treatment for a nagging foot injury.

Up until that point, O’Reilly’s KHL contract provided him with a measure of leverage over the Avalanche in his contract talks.

Whether or not O’Reilly is worth the five-year, $5 million per season he was reportedly seeking is debatable.  The fact he was earning $4 million US per season playing major-pro hockey in Russia when the Avs were offering between $3.25 -$3.75 million per season on two- and five-year offers made it easier (prior to his injury) for him to maintain his contract standoff with the Avalanche.

Under the new NHL CBA, a player who played in Europe during a season whose rights are still owned by an NHL team doesn’t have to pass through waivers if he still has waiver exemption remaining.

One wonders if, over the next decade, the KHL might be used by some NHL restricted free agents as bargaining leverage in negotiations with their NHL clubs. full story here…