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KHL And FHR Changes – Impact on Canadiens Prospect Demidov

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The Russian Hockey Federation (FHR) and the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) announced some significant changes on Tuesday, changes that will impact a few Montreal Canadiens prospects currently playing in Russia. A stick tap goes out to Hockey News Hub, as they were the first to mention changes were incoming. I will try to interpret the changes as best as I can, but as of today, we are somewhat short on details.

The first major change will be that the FHR and the KHL have agreed that the league will be independent. Prior to this agreement, the KHL played under the umbrella of the FHR, which would be roughly the equivalent of Hockey Canada running the National Hockey League (NHL). This means the KHL is now officially its own entity.

The KHL then announced they will keep honouring player contracts that were signed with foreign clubs, and they will release their players for the Olympics and IIHF (International Ice Hockey Federation) events. As it stands, Russian athletes are banned from both the Olympics and IIHF-related events due to the invasion of Ukraine, though as it stands, the ban only lasts until the summer of 2024 for the Olympic Games and 2024-25 for the IIHF events.

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In addition, KHL clubs will not be required to have an IIHF Transfer Card to sign players from a foreign league.  If you’d like to read more about the IIHF Transfer process, you can click here to view the PDF file. There will also be a discussion in the future about setting a limit of foreign players on KHL clubs, though that’s already quite common in most leagues. Prior to the change, Russian clubs were limited to five foreign players per season. And finally, they announced the KHL season will finish in May instead of April.

What Does It Mean For Montreal Canadiens Prospects?

The KHL separating itself from the FHR is a significant change, or at the very least it appears to be a significant change, because it modifies the dynamics of Russian hockey to a certain extent. We will have to see how the decisions are made, but it should signal a separation of hockey and state, running contrary to how the country has run its hockey federation since it was established in 1911.

We will need further details to establish whether the KHL and FHR changes will genuinely improve the league, as well as the discussions when it comes to player transfers. From an optics standpoint, the changes would suggest a little more freedom is on the menu for KHL players, and that extends to the top prospects who are expected to make the jump to the NHL in the future. On that note, we should keep in mind Philadelphia Flyers prospect Matvei Michkov already terminated his contract with SKA prior to the changes. Michkov then quickly signed his entry-level contract in the NHL. In other words, if the Montreal Canadiens want to hasten the timeline for prospects like Demidov, Bogdan Konyushkov, and Yevgeni Volokhin, they simply have to come to an agreement with their parent clubs in the KHL. Of course, the word ‘simply’ is doing a lot of heavy lifting in that sentence.

 

Fans will be quick to propose the Habs should get top prospect Ivan Demidov to North America as soon as possible, and there’s some logic to that point of view, but we also have to remember that despite the exodus of talent in recent years, the KHL is still one of the top leagues in the world.

If Demidov is relegated to the VHL, or even worse, the MHL, then the strategy of bringing Demidov to Canada earlier will hold more water. For a player like Konyushkov, who is already receiving important minutes in the KHL, there seems to be very little logic in trying to fast-forward his development, which is going quite well under head coach Igor Larionov.

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Dana

Interesting development for sure. As a fan, I would love to see Demidov here this fall instead of late next winter or early spring as I think the extra year here acclimatizing to the style and the teammates is very beneficial.

It’s a business there too, so the release fee would be more valuable I suspect, than the contribution for 1 year as a rookie- if he even plays in the KHL.

Dana

Hmm, it says the KHL season now will end in May not April so it’s likely we won’t see him for the full year if he stays there and plays for the big club. Or is that May end the end of the playoffs? Now I really hope Mr Molson opens the wallet and gets him here for the start of this season.

Mikeysl

Nothing wrong with an AHL type year in russia. Let the kid mature, get lots of ice time etc.
Patience

Greg

I hope Demidov gets KHL time if he stays there, he clearly has nothing to learn at the lower levels. Otherwise, Habs would be wise to get him out of there asap.