Almost every Canuck would be eligible to play in the KHL during NHL lockout

If the NHL and NHLPA were playing Street Fighter, they would still be arguing over which location they should choose to host their brawl. An announcement of a lockout on Saturday seems to be inevitable. The KHL knows this, which is why they announced an amendment to their regulations that would allow for up to three NHL players to be signed to contracts that last only as long as the lockout continues.

Of those three, only one is allowed to be non-Russian, and those players have to fit certain criteria to be eligible. While those criteria are basically a joke, it seems worth checking to see what members of the Vancouver Canucks would qualify, as some of them might see the KHL as an opportunity to get back up to game-speed before the actual start of the NHL season.

Dirk Hoag over at On the Forecheck has already done this with the Nashville Predators and discovered that the majority of the roster would qualify. For the Canucks, however, all but one player who isn’t on a two-way contract would qualify.

Here are the criteria from the KHL website:

The document comes into effect in the event of the NHL officially announcing the lock-out and would remain in force until the NHL officially declares the lock-out to be over. The amendment will cover players with existing NHL contracts, excluding those with two-way NHL contracts who are consigned by their clubs to lower league teams for the duration of the lockout.

KHL Hockey Operations Vice-President Vladimir Shalaev outlined the main points of the amendment:
“Our clubs have been granted the opportunity to enter into contracts and place on their main rosters no more than three NHL players, and the previously established limit of 25 players per team may be exceeded by the addition of these players. For Russian clubs, only one of the three NHL players may be a foreigner, and this player must meet one of the following criteria set down to ensure that only top-level foreign players come to play in the Kontinental Hockey League.”

Criteria for foreign players signed from NHL:
- Has played no fewer than 150 games in the NHL over the last three seasons;
- Has experience of playing in the KHL;
- Represented his country at one of the last two IIHF World Championships, World Junior Championships or the Olympics;
- Is a Stanley Cup winner, a Stanley Cup finalist, or a winner of one of the individual prizes awarded by the National Hockey League at the close of the season.

KHL clubs based in countries other than Russia may sign more than one foreign player among the maximum three NHL players. Moreover, the above criteria for foreign players will not apply to KHL clubs based outside Russia.

Players on two-way contracts are automatically excluded, so Zack Kassian, Andrew Ebbett, Aaron Volpatti, Chris Tanev, et al are not included.

As you can see, the only player that doesn’t qualify is Dale Weise, since last season was his rookie year and he didn’t actually play in the playoffs in 2010-11. The only player who qualifies simply by virtue of being a Stanley Cup finalist is Cory Schneider. Every other player on the Canucks has played 150 or more games over the last three seasons, with several Canucks also playing in the Olympics or one of the last two World Championships.

It’s pretty clear that the KHL’s criteria are designed to allow as many NHL players to qualify as possible while still sounding strict and stringent. But when Andrew Alberts and Maxim Lapierre count as “top-level” players, there’s something wrong with your filter.

It does say something about the Canucks, though, that they have no players on a one-way contract who haven’t played 150 games or more over the last three seasons besides Weise and Schneider, who have yet to even play three full seasons in the NHL. The Canucks have avoided signing goons or enforcers to one-way contracts recently. Weise and Lapierre are the two most likely players on one-way contracts to drop the gloves, with more one-dimensional players like Aaron Volpatti, Guillaume Desbiens, and Steven Pinizzotto all on two-way contracts.

Will any of the Canucks head to the KHL in case of a lockout? That’s a different question altogether. The Sedins have indicated that they’ll stay in Vancouver unless the lockout wipes out the entire season, in which case they plan on playing in Sweden. I could see Mason Raymond or Jannik Hansen taking a shot at the KHL, as they are both entering the prime of their careers and on the fringe of the Canucks’ top six. They might see the KHL as an opportunity to fine tune their offensive game prior to the start of the NHL season.

That’s simply speculation, however. Most of the Canucks have been tight-lipped about any lockout plans, except for those who have the AHL as an option.

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  1. John in Marpole
    September 13, 2012

    If I read that criteria list correctly, Schneider (and Luongo) also qualifies under the category of having won an individual trophy, the William Jennings in 2010/11.

    How soon we forget…

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    • Daniel Wagner
      September 13, 2012

      You are correct.

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  2. jim
    September 13, 2012

    Sucks to be an Oiler.

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    • the real bob
      September 15, 2012

      and an avalanche, wild and especially an islander

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