Sorry, Isles: Visnovsky to stick with KHL club (Updated)

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New York Islanders defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky will remain with Slovan Bratislava for the remainder of the season, according to Arthur Staple of Newsday.

“I have decided to stay and continue my career in the KHL for the remainder of the 2012-13 season,” Visnovsky said in a statement. “I am thankful to the Isles for being so good to me. My decision not to play in the NHL is due to family and personal reasons.

“I have made no decisions on next season. My focus now is on Slovan Bratislava, and enjoying my family in my home country.”

Update: Bill Daly didn’t give the deal the NHL’s go-ahead in an e-mail to Staple.

“We have an agreement with the KHL that would preclude Mr. Visnovsky from continuing to play in the KHL once the lockout is officially lifted,” Daly wrote. ” I assume that agreement will be respected.”

Meanwhile, the Islanders declined to comment.

How this happened

Visnovsky, traded from Anaheim to New York at June’s NHL Entry Draft, filed a grievance with the league shortly after learning of the deal, claiming his no-trade clause was still in effect.

From the Sporting News:

Visnovsky, while somehow saying that he’d play for the Islanders if the trade went through, maintained that he had a valid no-trade clause that he didn’t invoke when the Ducks acquired him from the Edmonton Oilers in 2010. The arbitrator felt differently.

The issue dates back to 2007 when Visnovsky inked a 5-year extension with the Los Angeles Kings, a contract that included a NTC. He was dealt to the Edmonton Oilers in June 2008, one day before the new contract and no-trade clause were set to kick in. At the 2010 trade deadline, Visnovsky was on the move back to California, this time going to the Ducks.

An arbitrator upheld the trade on Sept. 12.

Five days later, Visnovsky signed with Bratislava.

Despite all this, Visnovsky and his agent, Neil Sheehy, have made several public statements claiming they had no problems with the Islanders organization.

Sheehy re-iterated that to Staple on Monday, saying Visnovsky’s situation “would have been the same with any NHL team.”

What’s next

It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out on a variety of fronts.

The NHL already said its part about the KHL honoring contracts — Visnovsky has one year remaining on his deal — but the other factor will be how the Isles handle the situation.

It could end up being a Tim Thomas/Bruins-like scenario, in which the Bruins hold the option of suspending Thomas without pay, but still absorbing his $5 million cap hit.

Visnovsky’s cap hit for this season is $5.6 million, but he’s only owed $3 million in salary.

Habs president Molson pens glowing farewell letter to Markov

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Another bold move by GM Marc Bergevin, another statement from Montreal Canadiens president/CEO Geoff Molson.

However Molson actually feels about the franchise’s decision to let Andrei Markov leave for the KHL, he provided quite the goodbye letter regarding the 38-year-old defenseman. One can’t help but wonder how Molson feels about Montreal’s overall makeover, whether you believe Mark Streit is really “replacing” Markov or not.

Anyway, that will need to wait. In the meantime, here’s the very kind statement from Molson to Markov:

“On behalf of the entire organization, I would like to thank Andrei for his great contributions during his 16 seasons as a proud member of the Montreal Canadiens. Arguably one of the best defensemen in franchise history, Andrei was a model of dedication to the great game of hockey. A respected figure around the league and among his teammates, Andrei demonstrated leadership both on and off the ice. Andrei’s commitment to our franchise was second to none, proven by his overcoming three serious and potentially career-ending injuries. I would like to wish Andrei the best of luck in the next step of his career, and happiness with his family.”

Speaking of Canadiens all-timers, Larry Robinson had plenty of nice things to say about Markov, too.

Related

Markov, Habs officially part ways.

Markov is headed to the KHL.

Sabres re-sign Eichel’s buddy Rodrigues for two years

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The Buffalo Sabres might have signed Evan Rodrigues back in 2015 in part because he enjoyed so much success as a college linemate with Jack Eichel at Boston University, but the undrafted forward seems like he’s making a case that he’ll be a part of their future in his own right.

The Sabres handed Rodrigues a two-year deal that is two-way in 2017-18 and one-way in 2018-19. Whenever he’s at the NHL level, it’s worth $650K per season.

Rodrigues debuted in 2015-16, scoring a goal and an assist in two games. He managed to play in 30 regular-season contests for the Sabres last season, collecting six points.

He’s shown quite a bit of improvement at the AHL level, in particular. After collecting 30 points in 72 games for the Rochester Americans in 2015-16, he scored 30 again in 2016-17, although he only needed 48 contests to do so. Rodrigues isn’t quite Matt Moulson to Eihel’s John Tavares just yet, but it’s possible that he might at least development into a regular NHL player.

Buffalo’s work isn’t done for the summer just yet, as RFAs Zemgus Girgensons and Nathan Beaulieu still need deals.

Andrei Markov opts for KHL after saying goodbye to Canadiens

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Andrei Markov wanted to play his entire career with the Montreal Canadiens. With that option officially off the table, Markov announced that he’s headed for Russia and the KHL.

“I didn’t see myself with any other NHL team,” Markov said during a conference call wrapping up his lengthy stay with the Habs. “I didn’t see myself wearing another jersey.”

(At least not the jersey of another NHL team.)

The 38-year-old also noted that he hasn’t closed the door to a return to Montreal. That makes sense since it seems like it was largely the Canadiens’ decision to part ways with Markov, essentially replacing him with Mark Streit at a heavily discounted rate.

Beyond the comforts of home, Markov was almost certainly motivated to play in the KHL because of the 2018 Winter Olympics.

The veteran blueliner did not mention which KHL team he’ll end up playing for. There were some rumblings that Markov might sign with the Florida Panthers, but that turned out to not be true.

If it’s a one-year deal, a return to the Habs is at least feasible in 2018-19. Considering his age, it sure seems like this is the end of Markov’s lengthy run with the Canadiens, though.

After making NHL debut, Jones re-ups with Isles

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One of the Isles’ feel-good stories from last season wrote a new chapter on Thursday.

Connor Jones, the undrafted 26-year-old that made his NHL debut in April, has signed a one-year, two-way extension, the club announced.

Jones certainly earned his way to the show. He spent four years at Quinnipiac before catching on with the Oilers, spending time with both their AHL and ECHL affiliates before jumping to the Isles organization in 2015.

Though he’s not an offensive producer — just 19 points in 58 games with Bridgeport last season — Jones emerged as a good energy guy that proved an effective penalty killer.

With AHL Bridgeport, he also played alongside his twin brother, Kellen, who was in attendance as Connor made his NHL debut in April.

Connor would go on to play four games for the Isles, averaging just under 12 minutes per night.