The Risks and Rewards of Bringing KHL Players to the NHL

November 24th, 2014 by Jonathan Willis Leave a reply »

A week ago, the NHL made St. Louis Blues centre Jori Lehtera its first star of the week after he scored four goals and six points in three games, including a hat trick against the hapless Buffalo Sabres. It was a great example of the kind of talent the KHL boasts; after scoring less than a point per game in the world’s second-best league in 2013-14, the 26-year-old Lehtera now has 20 points in his first 20 NHL games.  

A few days after Lehtera topped the NHL’s weekly honours list, the Toronto Maple Leafs placed centre Petri Kontiola on unconditional waivers with the objective of terminating his contract. Kontiola, who had been signed to a one-way, $1.1 million contract over the summer, had failed to make the team out of training camp and then went pointless over 11 games in the minors.

He’s now headed back to the KHL, as yet another example of a star in the world’s second-best league who simply couldn’t cut it in the NHL.

Between them, Lehtera and Kontiola nicely captured both the possibilities and the problems for NHL teams banking on KHL stars.

One important thi ...

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