Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin, Detroit Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk and Ottawa Senators defenseman Sergei Gonchar are headed to Russia after the NHL imposed a lockout of its players.
Malkin and Gonchar signed with Mettalurg of the Kontinental Hockey League. The team is based in the city of Magnitogorsk. Mettalurg said they signed the players through the end of the 2012-13 season.
Datsyuk has signed with AK Bars Kazan.
The NHL officially locked out its players Sunday morning after the collective bargaining agreement between the sides expired.
NHL players playing for KHL teams will earn a maximum of 65 percent of their NHL salaries. Malkin has two years and $16.5 million remaining on his deal with the Penguins, Gonchar has one year and $5.5 million left with the Senators and Red Wings' Pavel Datsyuk has two years, $13.4 million remaining.
Via the USA Today:
The KHL has put restrictions on who can sign with the 20 Russia-based teams, allowing only three NHL players per team, including one non-Russian. The non-Russian has to be an accomplished player who meets one of these criteria: 1. Played 150 games in the NHL over the last three seasons, won a Stanley Cup or played in the Final, played previously in the KHL or played for his country internationally once in the past years. The restrictions don't apply to KHL teams not located in Russia. The KHL also has one team in the countries of Belarus, Ukraine, Latvia, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Kazakhstan and those teams.
According to recently released KHL rules regarding the signing of locked out NHL players, their salaries won't be counted against the KHL salary cap.
Over 300 NHL players played in Europe during the 2004-05 season.
The NHLPA issued a statement for players planning to play elsewhere via the USA Today:
"If you intend to play for a club in another league during a lockout, we recommend that you ask that club to insure the value of your SPC against injury. If the club is unwilling to do so, we recommend that you purchase disability insurance on your own."