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A look at the KHL

By now we’ve all heard about the Kontinental Hockey League, and their bid to land the Jackets 2008 first round pick Nikita Filatov. And although the Russian Super League has yet to have a direct impact on the Blue Jackets, there are a few former Jackets that have made the switch to the Russian league including Sergei Fedorov, Alexander Svitov, and potentially 2004 first round draft pick Nikolai Zherdev.

Although Russian professional hockey dates back to 1946, the KHL was founded in 2008. It is the successor to the RSL, or Russian Super League. The KHL currently has 24 teams, 21 of which are located within the Russian Federation.

There have been talks about expanding the league’s map and adding teams across Europe in order to establish itself as one of the world’s top leagues.

As the list of former NHL players in the KHL grows, which now features familiar names such as Jiri Hudler, Sergei Zubov, Joakim Lindstrom, and Richard Zednik, we are left wondering what type of impact the Russian League could have on the NHL.

One reason that the KHL has been able to woo away NHL free agents is because they have been able to offer tax free, incentive laden contracts worth more than what most NHL teams are willing to pay for a player.

Although the KHL has had some success tapping into the European pool of talent, they have had virtually no success in luring away American and Canadian born players.

The KHL has also had trouble corralling young NHL talent. With a few exceptions, the players that have made the switch overseas have mainly been older, past their prime players such as Fedorov and Zubov.

So unless the KHL can somehow begin luring away North American talent, which is unlikely considering concerns such as playing conditions, medical care, and Russian culture, the chances of the KHL overtaking the NHL as the world’s hockey power seem dim.

The KHL is a growing league which has had some success in acquiring talent, but how long can the KHL last by throwing inflated contracts in the face of washed up NHL players?

The fact of the matter is that the majority of the talent is in the NHL. The NHL is the big dog of professional hockey, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

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