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
2014-15 NHL Team
2013-14 KHL Team
|Jori Lehtera||St. Louis Blues||Sibir Novosibirsk||Former 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 Sekac||Montreal Canadiens||HC Lev Praha||22-year-old undrafted youngster is still a little unproven, but a stint in the AHL will help.|
|Leo Komarov||Toronto Maple Leafs||Dynamo Moscow||Played the 2012-13 season with Toronto with great success as a bottom-6, reliable tough forward.|
|Petri Kontiola||Toronto Maple Leafs||Traktor Chelyabinsk||drafted 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 Vasilevski||Tampa Bay Lightning||Salavat Yulaev Ufa||Despite being a Tampa prospect, Vasilevski secured his KHL release.|
Leaving NHL to Join KHL in 2014-15
2014-15 KHL Team
2013-14 NHL team
|Vladimir Sobotka||Avangard Omsk||St. Louis Blues||The 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 Belov||SKA St. Petersburg||Edmonton Oilers||After just one NHL season, the Russian defenceman signed a lucrative KHL contract.|
|Stephane Da Costa||CSKA Moscow||Ottawa Senators||The undrafted Frenchman is a borderline NHLer who split time with Ottawa and Binghamton.|
|Ben Eager||CSKA Moscow||Edmonton Oilers||NHL journeyman and enforcer looking to get more minutes with Moscow.|
|Alex Urbom||Severstal Cherepovets||New Jersey Devils||23-year-old Swede forward opted to leave Devils as a restricted free agent to sign in KHL|
|Teemu Selanne?||Jokerit?||Anaheim Ducks||Rumours 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.|