Rutherford: Penguins coach Sullivan isn’t happy Plotnikov suggested possible return to Russia

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With the trade deadline approaching, it would appear Pittsburgh Penguins forward Sergei Plotnikov has gotten on head coach Mike Sullivan’s bad side.

The apparent reason: Well, according to reports quoting Penguins GM Jim Rutherford, it’s because the 25-year-old Plotnikov expressed an interest in possibly returning to Russia.

Plotnikov hasn’t played since Jan. 6 — a span of 19 games. In 32 games with Pittsburgh, he has two assists.

Plotnikov signed a one-year, entry-level deal with the Penguins last summer. According to General Fanager, it’s worth a cap hit of $925,000.

He payed a hefty price just to sign in the NHL, reportedly footing a $500,000 bill to get out of his KHL contract at the time.

“Sergei wants to play in the NHL as evidenced by the amount of money he paid to be excused from the last year of his KHL contact,” Plotnikov’s agent Mike Liut told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

“He understands that this will not happen in Pittsburgh and the Penguins have been attempting to trade Sergei, albeit, a difficult task when a player is a healthy scratch for two months. If a trade is not available, he will have no choice but to return to Russia.”