Apr 6, 2014; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers defensemen Anton Belov (77) skates against the Anaheim Ducks at Rexall Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

NHL vs KHL: Players who switched leagues this offseason

We are not even close to arguing that the Kontinental Hockey league (KHL) is better than the NHL yet, but there is no doubt that the KHL is the undisputed second-best hockey league in the world. The Russian league made would have made big gains next season by having three new teams join the league, however, it was overshadowed by the unexpected departure of three other teams: HC Donbass (crisis in Ukraine), HC Lev Praha (financial instability), and Spartak Moscow (missed deadline for shoring up finances).

Although the departures of those three teams will most likely be only temporary, many fans were looking forward to seeing the KHL to pass the NHL in number of teams. They currently have 28, but if those three teams didn’t leave, the league would have had one more club than the NHL.

This offseason saw a flurry of players cross the Atlantic to play for the KHL, but also a lot of players came over from the KHL to sign with NHL teams. Here is a look at the most notable transitions.

Leaving KHL to Join NHL in 2014-15

Name
2014-15 NHL Team
2013-14 KHL Team
Notes
Jori LehteraSt. Louis BluesSibir NovosibirskFormer top prospect of the Blues played last few seasons in KHL in nearly point-per-game fashion. Looks to be a top 3 centre for Blues.
Jiri SekacMontreal CanadiensHC Lev Praha22-year-old undrafted youngster is still a little unproven, but a stint in the AHL will help.
Leo KomarovToronto Maple LeafsDynamo MoscowPlayed the 2012-13 season with Toronto with great success as a bottom-6, reliable tough forward.
Petri KontiolaToronto Maple LeafsTraktor Chelyabinskdrafted by Chicago in 2003, Kontiola a centre that is quick. He will battle for a spot on the top 2 or 3 lines on Toronto.
Andrei VasilevskiTampa Bay LightningSalavat Yulaev UfaDespite being a Tampa prospect, Vasilevski secured his KHL release.

Leaving NHL to Join KHL in 2014-15

Name
2014-15 KHL Team
2013-14 NHL team
Notes
Vladimir SobotkaAvangard OmskSt. Louis BluesThe solid NHL third-line centre may have been the odd man out in St. Louis after the arrivals of Paul Stastny and Jori Lehtera.
Anton BelovSKA St. PetersburgEdmonton OilersAfter just one NHL season, the Russian defenceman signed a lucrative KHL contract.
Stephane Da CostaCSKA MoscowOttawa SenatorsThe undrafted Frenchman is a borderline NHLer who split time with Ottawa and Binghamton.
Ben EagerCSKA MoscowEdmonton OilersNHL journeyman and enforcer looking to get more minutes with Moscow.
Alex UrbomSeverstal CherepovetsNew Jersey Devils23-year-old Swede forward opted to leave Devils as a restricted free agent to sign in KHL
Teemu Selanne?Jokerit?Anaheim DucksRumours swirl that the 44-year-old Finnish Flash is rumoured to finish his astounding career with Jokerit, which will debut as the first Finnish KHL team next season.
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Tags: Anton Belov Jiri Sekac Jori Lehtera KHL Petri Kontiola Teemu Selanne Vladimir Sobotka

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