Monday morning, R-Sport’s Semen Galkevich reported via an unnamed source that SKA Saint Petersberg was in the process of acquiring Evgeny Kuznetsov’s rights from Traktor Chelyabinsk. He added that the defending-champion KHL team had offered the restricted free agent a three-year, $18 million contract, possibly in May, which was turned down. Kuznetsov is signed to a NHL contract until June 30.
SKA Saint Petersberg responded to the report on their official Twitter account Monday.
Друзья, сейчас в сети много фейковых новостей о наших трансферах. Не верьте слухам, вся официальная информация – только на ska.ru
— Хоккейный клуб СКА (@hcSKA) June 19, 2017
“Friends there is a lot of fake news about our transfers,” the team wrote. “Don’t believe the rumors, all official information is only on ska.ru.”
While SKA Saint Petersberg called into question the transfer, which Galkevich said “will be announced officially within a few weeks,” the team did not specifically deny making Kuznetsov an offer.
SKA won the KHL championship last season, but is in desperate need of talented recruits for next season. They are losing three of their top-six forwards. Vadim Shipachev signed a two-year contract with the Vegas Golden Knights while Evgeni Dadonov is likely to follow on July 1. The team’s leading scorer from last season, Ilya Kovalchuk, is also planning to jump ship and return to the NHL, making his wishes known through his Russian agent in May.
SKA has deep pockets and is funded by the gas company Gazprom, which is owned by the Russian government. While they could aggressively go after Kuznetsov on July 1, most other KHL teams cannot.
The KHL is suffering from severe financial problems and shuttered one of their teams, Metallurg Novokuznetsk, in the spring. Meanwhile, Croatian team Medvescak Zagreb has left for the Austrian-based EBEL league. Earlier this week, Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin attended a Vladimir Putin town hall event to try and get questions answered on his former team, Dynamo Moscow.
Dynamo’s general director Andrey Safronov has been forced out and the team is almost $50 million in debt. The team hasn’t paid its players for months and is being taken over by Dynamo Society.
Kuznetsov has called the KHL a second option and would only return unless he is “not wanted” in the NHL.
Translation by Igor Kleyner.
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