Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pavel, we hardly knew 'ya

Moscow Dynamo of the Kontinental Hockey League is reporting on its website (thanks to Habs Inside/Out for this link) that the club has signed Canadiens prospect Pavel Valentenko to a three-year deal. Valentenko was already in Russia, having been granted leave by the Hamilton Bulldogs to deal with family issues.

Not good news for the Habs by any means, who were counting on Valentenko to emerge as a guy who could step in on the pro club as soon as next season when, in all likelihood, Francis Bouillon and Patrice Brisebois won't be back.

The Habs were also considering it all but assured that Alexei Emelin of Ak Bars Kazan would also be coming to Montreal next year when his contract runs out at the end of this season. That can't be considered as much of a sure thing anymore.

As bad as this may be for the Habs, this is even worse news for Russian prospects in general who have dreams of playing in the NHL. The league's GMs were already a bit tentative when it came to drafting Russians without a transfer agreement in place, but I think most of them at least felt that once these guys were under contract and playing in North America, they were relatively safe from poachers.

But after Alexander Radulov bolted from the Nashville Predators for greener pastures in Ufa prior to this season, and now the apparent departure of Valentenko for Moscow, who in his right mind would commit any assets - inlcuding a high draft pick - to a Russian prospect?

Radulov came to Quebec City to play his junior hockey, in most eyes a sign he truly wanted to play in the NHL, and Valentenko appeared to want the same by playing in Hamilton last year. If Radulov and Valentenko can back out of a contract, how on earth could a Russian prospect convince a team he won't?


Sliver24 said...

I just posted this at HIO because I hadn't seen your latest entry yet. Here are my thoughts:

That's a pretty bonehead move at this point when you consider that four of the eight players that currently patrol the blue line for the Habs are UFAs at the end of the season. Hopefully Komisarek and Bouillion will be back next year, although I could see a team that's hurting for D-men (i.e. TB) offering Bouillion more than the Habs would be willing to pay him. I certainly don't see Brisebois or Dandenault coming back next season.

It seems to me that, had he stuck around, Velentenko would have been likely to have cracked the Habs' lineup next season at the latest. Who knows, maybe Gainey will trade one or more of those guys before February and Velentenko would have ended the year with the big club.

Oh well, if this is true, then good riddance says I. A 21 year old that would leave town under false pretences and then sign in another league isn't the type of player I want on my team anyways. He’s way too much of a prima donna for my tastes, much like his countryman Grabovski (who, BTW, has two points and is a minus-4 in nine games this season – LOL).

Anonymous said...

what i don't understand about this move is that there is, in fact, an agreement in place (i think, with radulov it was deemed he signed his contract before it was finalized or at least that's the dispute). valentenko is under contract and therefore will be banned from int'l tournaments and the khl will have to pay a fine (i believe). is he aware of this or, like others, he will say his hand was forced?

i can't say i'm against russian players playing in the big leagues, ie dynamo, if it helps their development (apparantly, he's signed for this season and the next two are optional). let's be honest, if i had a choice between dynamo or the bulldogs i'm pretty sure i'd pick the former. but how much ice time is a kid going to get when a player like emelin doesn't skate much? it seems like the khl is grabbing these kids while they can with little care for their best interest as players.

very disappointing.

Anonymous said...

Remember Pierre McGuire having a fit when Cherapanov was drafted too low in his opinion in 2007? Why waste a first rounder on any of these guys now? Why bring them over for the CHL either.