ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) — Russian forward Vadim Shipachyov signed Saturday with SKA St. Petersburg in the Kontinental Hockey League after quitting a deal with the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights.
Shipachyov returns to the team where he won two KHL championships. He is on a one-year contract which leaves him free to play at the Winter Olympics.
Vegas said Thursday that Shipachyov’s contract was ended after he refused to play for its AHL affiliate. He is officially considered “voluntarily retired” from the NHL.
Shipachyov appeared unhappy with his former team in a statement issued by SKA on Saturday.
“They say one thing to your face and when it comes to hockey, something else,” he said, adding that his NHL experience had been “two months of misunderstandings, smiles and conversations which had nothing to do with reality.”
The center was Vegas’ second-ever signing and he arrived amid hype from his performances in the KHL and for the Russian national team.
Shipachyov scored in his first game for Vegas but that was the only goal of his three-game NHL career.
Vadim Shipachyov saga finally ends for Vegas Golden Knights
The Vadim Shipachyov era in Vegas has officially come to a close and the 30-year-old Russian will forever be known as the first player to retire as a Golden Knight.
As part of an agreement between the Knights, NHL and NHLPA, Shipachyov has voluntarily retired from the NHL. General manager George McPhee said he had a trade in place but the player wanted to go home. In order for the move to be completed, the center needed to pay back all but $86,000 of his $2 million signing bonus.
“Sometimes it just doesn’t work,” McPhee said. “Sometimes the player you see in Europe isn’t the player you see here, and that’s the risk you take when you sign them and you’re hoping that it works out and it doesn’t always work out.”
His salary is now completely off their books and Vegas now has an open spot on their roster.
All signs points to Shipachyov returning to SKA, a powerhouse in the KHL, despite an attempt by his hometown club Severstal to lure him back.
The Golden Knights made a splash in the spring by signing Shipachyov to a two-year, $9 million contract with an annual $4.5 million cap hit, bringing the productive — and certainly intriguing — KHL forward from Russia to the North American game at the age of 30.
Vadim Shipachyov has decided he’s going back to Russia. Contract termination will follow after unconditional waiver process #Sportsnet
Shipachyov appeared in three games for the Golden Knights and scored his first NHL goal in his debut against the Bruins.
But this working relationship has gone through an extended difficult stretch over the past few weeks, with the team granting Shipachyov and his representatives the opportunity to seek out a trade within the league.
Among the motivating factors for returning to Russia is likely the possibility of participating in the 2018 Olympics, in a year when NHL players will not take part. He has plenty of international experience for Russia, impressing once again at the 2017 World Championships.
The Vegas Golden Knights made a splash in May when they signed KHL starVadim Shipachyov to a two-year, $9 million contract before the franchise even drafted a roster.
Five months later, that relationship looks to be coming to an end. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports on Wednesday that the Golden Knights have given Shipachyov and his agent permission to seek a trade out of Sin City.
The 30-year-old Shipachyov, who went 26-50—76 in 50 KHL games last season, has played in only three of Vegas’ eight games this season and has been demoted to their AHL affiliate in Chicago twice, including just before opening night. That first demotion led to rumors he was seeking to return to Russia, something that general manager George McPhee and the player’s agent denied.
Plenty of team could use center help, but the term of Shipachyov’s contract will prove to make the job tougher in finding a suitable trade partner. On a one-year deal, it could be worth the gamble for a team. That second year, however? Tough to swallow when you have a 30-year-old who’s new to the North American game carrying a $4.5 million cap hit next season.
The good thing for the Golden Knights is while the move appears to have failed, it hasn’t and won’t be a distraction to the 7-1-0 expansion side. However and whenever this plays out, it hasn’t affected the play on the ice and it’s clear, in the eyes of McPhee and head coach Gerard Gallant that his place on the depth chart is that of a player not worthy of regular time in an NHL lineup.
Shipachyov was sent down again on Tuesday, but he may not end up in Chicago depending on how this situation plays out. He could be dealt, fail to report and be suspended or work out a deal to go back to Russia. It will be curious to see how this plays out.
There were a few candidates tonight, particularly from the Vegas Golden Knights victory over the Boston Bruins. Alex Tuch and Vadim Shipachyov both made their debuts for the expansion team and both scored their first career NHL goals.
Vegas goalie Malcolm Subban also recorded his first career NHL win, stopping 21 of 22 shots faced as the Golden Knights held on in the end for a 3-1 victory. Subban was solid. He made a difficult stop in close off Brad Marchand and helped defeat the team that put him on waivers only two weeks ago.
“It’s a great feeling,” said Subban, per NHL.com. “I made a lot of friends [in Boston], played with a lot of great teammates and (had) a great coaching staff. I’m just happy to get the win.”
Boston selected Subban in the first round of the 2012 draft, but he spent the vast majority of his time in the American Hockey League. Putting Subban on waivers prior to the start of this season was a risk the Bruins were well aware of, and he was claimed by the Golden Knights. He started Sunday, while Marc-Andre Fleury was placed on injured reserve.
Highlight of the night:
The Buffalo Sabres finally have their first win of the season. They received a goal from recently recalled forward Justin Bailey and a 25-save performance from Chad Johnson. He had the glove working in this one, but arguably his best save of the night was this pad stop on Nick Ritchie to keep his team in the lead, at least at the time, during the second period. The angle from behind the net shows just how close this puck came to going in, but Johnson managed to trap it right against the post before the mayhem ensued.
Factoid of the night:
Cam Fowler, selected 12th overall by the Anaheim Ducks in 2010 and still only 25 years of age, achieved a career milestone and made franchise history on Sunday against the Buffalo Sabres.