Pavel Datsyuk is about to start a three-year, $22.5 million contract with the Detroit Red Wings, so it’s reasonable to believe that the 36-year-old forward isn’t leaving the NHL in the near future. However, Datsyuk still hasn’t closed the door on playing for the KHL’s Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg before he hangs up his skates.
“It is hard to talk about it now,” Datsyuk told the Russian publication Sportbox, per the Detroit Free Press. “My dream is to play for the (KHL team) remains, but (I have to) look at how the rest of my hockey career (goes).”
That quote comes at a time when KHL president Alex Medvedev is hinting that Russian stars might depart the NHL in the not too distant future. When Sport-Express.ru asked about Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin specifically, Medvedev suggested “there might be good surprises in a year,” according to Sports.ru’s Igor Eronko.
Of course, it’s not that simple given that Ovechkin and Malkin are under contract with Washington and Pittsburgh respectively. As we discussed in April, the KHL-NHL memorandum of understanding would require that Ovechkin or Malkin to negotiate out of their NHL contracts before they could sign in the KHL. That memorandum of understanding was recently extended, although Medvedev’s quote becomes a bit more ominous when you consider that the agreement is now set to expire on June 30, 2015.
It’s also worth adding that Ovechkin has also previously shrugged off the idea that he would leave Washington.
If nothing else, it wouldn’t be shocking if some or all of them decided to finish their careers in the KHL once their playing days are winding down and their existing NHL contracts are completed. It’s something Teemu Selanne has considered doing at the age of 44 and he wouldn’t be the first one to take that route.