KHL to NHLers: Only ‘top-rated talent’ welcome

The Kontinental Hockey League has released its guidelines for signing locked-out NHL players, reports Slava Malamud of the Russian sports daily Sport-Express, and only the North American game’s elite will be accepted.

According to the Russian report, run through Google Translate, NHL players foreign to Russia must meet one of the following criteria in order to be considered for the European league, widely considered the NHL’s runner-up in terms of hockey talent:

1. Have played at least 150 games in the NHL over the last three seasons

2. Have previous experience playing in the KHL

3. Was a member of his national team in one of the last two World Championships, World Youth Championships or the Olympic Games

4. Was a winner or finalist for the Stanley Cup or the winner of one of the NHL’s individual awards

During the NHL lockout — set to begin Sept. 15 if no new CBA agreement is reached by the players and owners — the total number of foreign players signed to one Russian KHL club may be six, including no more than one goalie. The total number of locked-out NHLers permitted on one KHL club is three, and only one of those may be foreign.

Russian NHL stars Evgeni Malkin, Alex Ovechkin, Pavel Datsyuk and Ilya Kovalchuk have already been linked to KHL teams and are expected to play in Russia during a lockout.

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Six of the KHL’s 26 teams are based in countries other than Russia and the league has designs on expanding its reach even further. Two regular-season games are already scheduled for the newly built Barclays Center in Brooklyn in January and the league has looked into its options for showing games on TV in North America this season.

(with files from CP)