ZURICH – The absence of an IIHF-NHL Player Transfer Agreement doesn’t stop transfer activity. On the contrary; while 63 European-based players have signed with National Hockey League clubs for the 2008-09 season, 64 NHLers went the opposite way.
In total, 52 European-born players have either signed rookie contracts with an NHL team or are rejoining the NHL after having played in Europe. Swedes top the list with 16 players in front of Russia with eleven, and the Czech Republic and Finland with seven players each. Other Europeans: Denmark (3), Germany, Latvia, Slovakia (2), Belarus and Switzerland (1).
Adding to those 52 Europeans, 11 North Americans, who played in Europe last season, signed NHL contracts for 2008-09.
While 63 players decided to go west, 64 NHLers – players who basically played in minor leagues last season are not included – signed contracts in Europe. Out of this number, 37 are European returnees and 27 are North Americans.
The new KHL lured most players, 34; 25 of them went to Russian teams, four to Kazakhstan’s Barys Astana, three to Latvia’s Dinamo Riga, and two to Belarus’ Dynamo Minsk. Nine NHLers signed in Switzerland, seven in Sweden, six in Germany, five in the Czech Republic and three in Finland.
And more signings can be expected. While the expired IIHF-NHL transfer agreement virtually prevented NHL clubs from signing players from Europe after June 15, the transfer-less situation makes it possible for the NHL to sign European league players basically until the end of the season, providing they are free-agents or if the player has secured his own release.