With the National Hockey League in another lockout, players around the league are trying to stay loose and play hockey. Whether it is staying in town and playing pick-up games with other professionals, heading to the minors like the American Hockey League or going overseas to play hockey. Many have decided to head overseas and play in the KHL, SEL, Swiss League and much more.
The day after the NHL's Collective Bargaining Agreement expired, the KHL was on the prowl for star players. Metallurg Magnitogorsk signed Russians Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins center, and Sergei Gonchar, Ottawa Senators defenseman. Also, Metallug signed ex-Penguin Cal O'Reilly and Toronto Maple Leafs' winger Nikolai Kulemin.
On Monday, September 17, San Jose Sharks' forward Joe Thornton and New York Rangers' forward Rick Nash were going to play for HC Davos of the Swiss League. Both players played for Davos during the 2004-05 lockout, where they won the league championship.
Later that day, Ilya Kovalchuk of the New Jersey Devils signed a contract with SKA St. Petersburg in the KHL. Also, Stanley Cup Winner Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings signed a deal Mora IK in the Swedish Elitserian League.
Captain of the Washington Capitals, Alexander Ovechkin decided to go play for Dynamo Moscow in the KHL on Tuesday, September 18. Ovechkin played for Dynamo in 2001-05.
A few hours later, Buffalo Sabres' defenseman Christian Ehrhoff reached a deal to play for the Krefeld Penguins, his hometown team in native Germany.
The next day, Jason Spezza, Ottawa Senators, signed a deal to play in the Swiss League with Rapperswil-Jona in the Swiss League.
On Thursday, September 20, the first overall pick of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft and Edmonton Oilers' forward Nail Yakupov signed with Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk--good luck pronouncing that--of the KHL. Just five days earlier, Yakupov reported to the Ontario Hockey League's Sarnia Sting where it was speculated he was not happy to return to the major junior level.
The Swiss League started to look better and better with news of Boston Bruins' young phenom Tyler Seguin reaching a deal to play for EHC Biel.
Detroit Red Wings' forward Pavel Datsyuk signed with CSKA Moscow in the KHL Saturday, September 22.
Other Notable Players going overseas:
Niklas Backstrom – Minnesota Wild to Dinamo Minsk (KHL)
Kaspars Daugavins – Ottawa Senators to Dinamo Riga (KHL)
Ruslan Fedotenko – Philadelphia Flyers to Donbass Donetsk (KHL)
Andrei Kostitsyn – Nashville Predators to Traktor Chelyabinsk (KHL)
Alexei Ponikarovsky – Winnipeg Jets to Donbass Donetsk (KHL)
Semyon Varlamov – Colorado Avalanche to Lokomotiv Yaroslavl (KHL)
Lubomir Vishnovsky – NY Islanders to Slovan Bratislava (KHL)
Jiri Hudler - Calgary Flames to HC Lev Praha (KHL)
Jakub Voracek - Philadelphia Flyers to HC Lev Praha (KHL)
Logan Couture - San Jose Sharks to Geneva-Servette (Swiss)
Mark Streit - NY Islanders to Bern (Swiss)
Jaromir Jagr - Dallas Stars to Kladno Knights (Czech Extraliga)
More deals to come as the NHL lockout continues to stretch out...