Will Russian laws close the pipeline?
The advent of a well-funded Russian league, reforms to that nation's labor laws and the decision of 21-year-old Alexander Radulov to leave Nashville and return to play in his homeland likely will discourage NHL franchises from investing future high picks in Russian players.
"It's only going to get worse in the minds of (NHL) general managers," one NHL agent said. "They are going to be more reluctant to take (Russian players) early because they're not sure if they will be able to come over."Another good piece from the Columbus daily.
Nikita Filatov was picked sixth overall by the Blue Jackets because the team did its research into how easy it would be to get him to play in North America this season. Filatov has always expressed a desire to do so, regardless of where he plays, and the fact he was drafted by the OHL's Sudbury Wolves could mean we see him there next season.
The IIHF, however, has suspended him from international competition for the time being. The KHL is kicking up a fuss without much of a case, and new laws are specifying that he would have to buy himself out of a contract that may or may not exist.
In other words, as "easy" as Filatov is to bring over, there are still few guarantees.
There's been a lot of talk about the KHL's ability (or lack thereof) to poach established players from the NHL, but perhaps the greatest threat comes from the fact that homegrown talent is becoming increasingly difficult to bring to North America.
Evgeni Malkin comes to mind.
This is what drafting from the top five overseas nations has looked like the past 18 years:
No. of players picked
(Keep in mind that the number of picks in the entry draft has decreased from 290 to 211 over the past few years.)
And that nosedive in Russians drafted was before these KHL-inspired changes to labour laws:
Recent changes to Russian employment regulations will make it increasingly difficult for players under contract to leave. An NHL agent said that a new law will require a departing player to repay two-thirds of his salary under his Russian contract. The agent said the KHL is pressuring teenagers to sign long-term deals.Even if Filatov jumps through the hoops and ends up in a Blue Jackets uniform, he could be the last of a dying breed.