A weird development emerged Friday afternoon, with a bunch of the most prominent hockey agents active with Russian players being basically banned from Russia and the KHL:

The speculation is that this has to do with more Russian players leaving for North America — and not just for NHL contracts like Nikita Zaitsev, Ilya Mikheyev or Alexander Barabanov. There are an increasing number of Russian players who leave for junior leagues in North America. The Toronto Maple Leafs and other NHL teams have taken advantage of both free agent Russians as well as drafting the ones playing in North American junior leagues in recent years.

Andrei Svechnikov, Daniil Gushchin, Yan Kuznetsov, Mikhail Abramov, Semyon Der-Arguchintsev, Ivan Miroshnichenko, etc. All of them left to play in the CHL, NCAA or even USHL to develop as pre-draft eligible prospects in North America so they have more exposure for NHL scouts. Some of them are going to the USHL first, and then either the NCAA or moving to the CHL. A weird path to take, but they’re doing it. Muskegon in the USHL has had a few prominent Russian prospects come through their doors recently.

It makes sense that Russia wouldn’t like this. They already held it against players who left for North America by leaving them off of their Team Russia roster for international tournaments.  But how can they do that if more and more of their top prospects leave? Banning the agents from Russia to try and — I am guessing here — prevent their prospects from talking with agents who can help them facilitate their move to North America seems weird, but there you go.

I guess it’s similar to players like Igor Ozhiganov allegedly having his ice time cut way down when it was all but confirmed a full season ahead of time that he was going to sign with the Leafs.

I’ve heard word that MLSE is exploring the idea of purchasing a KHL team in Finland to maintain their steady stream of KHL prospects and free agents to their NHL team.

KHL May Day Rumour Roundup | by Katya

Throwback Thursday: This week in 1978, Lanny McDonald OT winner advances Toronto Maple Leafs in playoffs | by Zach Lang

Toronto Maple Leafs Suspended-Season Thoughts, Part 2: The Coaching Change and the Future in Net | by Anthony Petrielli at MLHS

‘He’s different’: Why the Leafs don’t have another prospect like Justin Brazeau | by Joshua Kloke at The Athletic


The big thing that came out late last night was a memo from the NHL about a proposed draft lottery that apparently most teams and fans hate.

Four arena plan remains in play and so does going straight to playoffs | by Larry Brooks at the NY Post

Edmonton’s bid to be hub city is ‘full steam ahead’ and ‘looking fairly optimistic’ | by Ryan Rishaug at TSN

31 Thoughts: Best-case scenario for resumption of NHL season | by Elliot Friedman at Sportsnet

This is applicable to the discussion about the NHL returning:

Some free agent signings around the world:

Filed under: But Why?