The KHL: Where bad contracts go to die
As the Predators awaited resolution over Alexander Radulov's bolt to join Russia's Kontinental Hockey League, word came last week that Marcus Nilson, under contract with the Flames for 2008-09 at $1 million, is attempting to hook on with the vaunted Red Army squad.
By the sound of things, the Flames won't object, since the 30-year-old Nilson really doesn't factor into their plans.
"We were hoping to do this quietly," Nilson's agent, J.P. Barry, told the Calgary Sun. "The Flames are being good about this."It's a pretty interesting twist, really. A young star like Alex Radulov bolts for more money to return to Russia and the NHL stirs up an international incident, while the unwanted are "quietly" encouraged to break their deals and sign overseas.
So much for mistakes coming back to haunt teams under the salary cap.
The Flames waived Nilson in June before free agency even opened, when it was unlikely his $1-million deal would find a home given all of the available talent. Calgary is one of a handful of teams that needs to clear cap space, and an apparent move toward stashing a few veterans in the minors is an easy way to free that up.
It's an even better situation for the club if it can get away without paying the cash at all, which will be the case if Nilson signs in Russia.
Heck, we've already seen that situation play out this summer with Vitaly Vishnevski and the Devils. The good ol' KHL will save GM Lou Lamoriello an incredible $3.6-million over the next two seasons.
Quietly, mind you.
For all the talk of the sanctity of an NHL contract, one would think that the league would mandate unwanted players be bought out of their deals rather than pushed to slink out the back door and not look back.
I'm a bit surprised we haven't heard from the NHLPA in these situations.
"It was a difficult year for Marcus and what we're doing now is try to make sure he doesn't go through another like that," Barry said. "The Flames are being very good about all this. They want what's best for Marcus, too."