A busy seven days on the transfer market saw the return of a much-loved hero, and several star players opting to sign new deals with their current employers.
The week’s most famous Prodigal Son was ex-Avangard goalie Karri Ramo, who has returned to the KHL having signed a two-year deal with Jokerit. The 30-year-old Finn has now had two spells in the NHL, first with the Tampa Bay Lightning (from 2006 to 2009) and then the Calgary Flames (2013 to 2016), but it was during his four seasons minding the net for the Omsk men that he produced the finest performances of his career, posting a Goals Against Average of 1.99 and a Save Percentage of 92.4. Karri spent the 2016-17 season in Finland’s Liiga with the Lahti Pelicans after injury had plagued his return to the NHL, and has now chosen an extended spell in Helsinki.
Four big-name players put pen to paper and agreed to stay at their current clubs:
Having played for three different teams across two continents (SKA, Arizona Coyotes and Chicago Blackhawks) in the last two seasons, 29-year-old Russian international forward Viktor Tikhonov has opted for a little stability and signed on for another season with SKA Saint Petersburg.
Canadian defenseman Shaone Morrisonn, 34, a veteran of 507 NHL appearances (11 goals, 66 assists) from spells with the Boston Bruins, Washington Capitals and Buffalo Sabres, has agreed to extend his contract with Admiral for one year.
Russian international defenseman and Dynamo Moscow stalwart Maxim Solovyov has negotiated a one-year extension to his contract with the Blue-and-Whites, with whom the 38-year-old has won two Gagarin Cups.
Spartak has persuaded Russian international defenseman Dmitry Kalinin to stay at the club for another year. The 36-year-old’s lengthy resume includes two Gagarin Cups (with Salavat Yulaev, 2011; and SKA Saint Petersburg, 2015), three World Championship golds (2008, 2009, 2012) and 578 games (38 goals, 133 assists) in the NHL with the Buffalo Sabres, New York Rangers and Phoenix Coyotes.
Kalinin’s team-mate, 22-year-old Russian international forward Vyacheslav Leshchenko, has also decided to stay with the Red-and-Whites.
Finnish defenseman Ville Lajunen, 29, who has been at Jokerit since the 2014-15 season, has signed for Spartak on a one-year deal.
American forward Casey Wellman has signed a one-year contract with HC Sochi. The 29-year-old played three seasons with the Minnesota Wild, one with the Washington Capitals (NHL totals: 54 games, 6 goals, 10 assists), and one in the KHL with Spartak, but spent the 2016-17 campaign with Frölunda of the Swedish League.
Another player moving from the Swedish League to the KHL this week was Växjö Lakers forward Dennis Everberg, who has signed a one-year deal with Avangard. The 25-year-old was part of the Swedish national team which captured World Championship gold this month, and he spent two seasons (2014-15 and 2015-16) in the NHL with the Colorado Avalanche (70 games, 3 goals, 9 assists).
Kunlun Red Star has added some experience to its offense with the signing of much-traveled forward Konstantin Makarov, formerly of Metallurg Magnitogorsk, Salavat Yulaev, Lokomotiv, Amur, Ugra, Sibir, Avtomobilist, Admiral, and Neftekhimik. The 31-year-old has agreed a one-year deal with the Chinese club.
Severstal has been head-hunting in Russia and Europe, and has hired the services of 28-year-old goaltender Julius Hudacek, part of the Slovakia roster that won silver at the 2012 World Championships, from HK Orebro; Petr Holik, a 25-year-old Czech Republic international center, from HC Zlin, and experienced Russian international forward Maxim Rybin, 35, who has played in the KHL for SKA, Neftekhimik and Lada, and played his junior hockey for the Sarnia Sting in the Ontario Hockey League. Hudacek and Rybin have signed one-year deals, while Holik’s contract runs for two years. The Cherepovets club has also enlisted 28-year-old forward Alexander Shcherbina, previously with SKA, Vityaz and HC Sochi.
Defenseman Mikhail Grigoryev, whose contract with Avangard terminated in April, has decided on a return to Torpedo, whose colors he wore for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons. The 26-year-old Russian international won the Gagarin Cup with Salavat Yulaev in 2011 before spells with Barys, Torpedo, Lokomotiv, Admiral and Avangard.
Joining Grigoryev in Nizhny Novgorod is 34-year-old defenseman Renat Mamashev, who returns after a seven-year absence which included shifts with HC Sochi, Sibir, Neftekhimik, and Traktor.
Czech international defenseman Michal Jordan, formerly of the Carolina Hurricanes, has left Ak Bars after one season with the Kazan club. The 25-year-old has signed a two-year contract with Amur.
Among those who left their clubs and remain unemployed at the time of writing were two of the League’s North American guests:
Canadian goaltender Kevin Lalande, who acquired Belarusian citizenship while with Dinamo Minsk, has left the club for the second time. The 30-year-old spent five of the last six seasons at Dinamo, but played for CSKA Moscow during the 2014-15 campaign.
Finally, Former Colorado Avalanche forward Joey Hishon has parted company with Jokerit by mutual consent. The 25-year-old Canadian made 49 appearances for the Helsinki men, scoring 9 (3+6) points.