Thread: KHL Expansion
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12-06-2012, 06:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Vicente View Post
But you have to see, too, that there can't be equally competitive teams from two continents if the teams of one continent can pay much higher salaries and thus sign all the good players of the other continent.
"Much higher" and "all the good players" -- certainly not. I'm not convinced, though, that this is true even right now. And I can't see how anyone can predict what the situation will be 20 years from now. To say even in 2012 that "all the good players" have already been signed by the NHL is an insult to many top-quality hockey players with long-term contracts in the KHL. Let me only mention a name like Mozyakin. Do you seriously believe he's worth less than any random NHL 3rd-liner, or perhaps even 2nd-liner? He might be up there with the NHL's best. Perhaps there'll be dozens of such Mozyakins in future, and a team composed of them might well beat any NHL team on any given night.

I already see a clear, new trend forming in recent years. European players who 10 or 15 years ago would have given their everything to try and fight for an NHL roster spot overseas, just no longer give a damn and choose to return to Europe instead. That doesn't mean they aren't good hockey players. It's just that the KHL is already more interesting to them than constantly moving on the fringes of NHL and AHL. Many would today prefer the role of a KHL 2nd-liner over that of an NHL 4th-liner. (Branko Radivojevič anyone?) Does that mean that a KHL team composed of such players is weaker than an NHL team? Not necessarily. Two players could well be of a similar level of quality, but with their quality being otherwise equal, it's understandable for an NHL team to offer a contract to the North American-born rather than the European-born player, if only because of the narrow-rink adaptation issues, language barriers, etc.

Two more examples: Lev's young defenceman Juraj Mikuš was offered the prolongation of his contract with the Toronto Marlies, with the option of possibly fighting for a roster spot on the Maple Leafs in later years. 10 years ago, he would have stayed, but now he's back in Europe playing in the KHL. Another example is last year's Calder Cup winner, Slovan's goaltender Janus. Do you really think that a team composed of the likes of Mozyakin, Mikuš and Janus could not be competitive against any random NHL team? I don't think so. And we're only seeing the beginnings of the trend described above, with the KHL only in its 5th season. Similarly, I'm convinced there are many superb players in the Swedish, Finnish, or Czech league that no NHL fan has ever heard about, but that doesn't mean that a team composed of such players wouldn't be competitive in games against NHL teams.

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