Read: The Ilya Kovalchuk Situation Is Unique and Players Won’t Start Flocking To Russia

At ESPN Insider, Craig Custance writes that Ilya Kovalchuk’s decision to retire and return to Russia and play in the KHL is unique and not one that will have a lot of copy cats in the NHL.

Custance says that Kovalchuk has talked about returning to Russia for many years and that pull has been there since the KHL started.

NHL teams have to terminate a player’s contract to allow them to play in another league, something that other teams may not be willing to do.


The Rangers have no one on their NHL roster who is from Russia but they did draft Pavel Buchnevich in the third round in 2013.

Buchnevich has two years remaining on his KHL contract.

The Rangers also have the rights two Mikhail Pashnin and Pavel Valentenko. Pashnin was going to leave Russia and come to North America before deciding to stay in Russia on a two-year contract. Valentenko returned to Russia last summer.