Well guys, it’s NHL lockout season again and you all know what that means! …a disapora of NHL players to various hockey leagues all over the world. And the St. Louis Blues are no different. At present, the Blues have seven players who have opted to play overseas, and rumors are circulating about plenty of others as well. So the following is a simple rundown of all the recent transactions:
Vladimir Sobotka was one of the first to sign elsewhere. He elected to join HC Slavia Praha in the Czech league, a team he previously played for from 2003-07 before making his way to America and playing with Providence in the AHL.
Fellow Czech, Roman Polak, signed with HC Vitkovice, the team he made his professional debut with in 2005-06 after leaving the WHL after only one season.
Patrik Berglund has joined VIK Västerås of the HockeyAllsvenskan, where it has been confirmed that he will play for free. He reportedly said, “I don’t want to charge my youth club anything,” He played for Västerås from 2005-08 before joining the Blues. Also, if rumor is to be believed, Berglund has been trying to convince teammate and good fried TJ Oshie to join him in Sweden. However, no confirmation of this to date.
While Alex Steen has been training with MODO of the Swedish Elite League for weeks, the SEL just recently made it allowable for NHLers to sign with their teams. The Swedish-Canadian played for MODO previously in 2004-05 and he is the first locked out NHLer to sign in the SEL this year.
Yesterday it was announced that Chris Stewart would play for Eispiraten Crimmitschau of Gernany’s second division. He had offers to play in the German elite league, but turned them down for the opportunity to play with Philadelphia Flyer, Wayne Simmonds. The pair have been best friend since childhood and after training together in Toronto all summer, they felt they couldn’t pass up an opportunity to play together once again.
Kris Russell has signed with TPS Turku of the Finnish Elite League. Turku has produced a number of successful Finnish NHLers—The Koivu brother, Mikka Kiprusoff and Sami Solo to name just a few.
Perhaps the most significant, or at least the most anticipated overseas signing by Blues fans so far has come with Vladimir Tarasenko and his deal with SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL. Tarasenko played for SKA at the end of last season after being traded from HC Sibir, his hometown team. His early September arrival in St. Louis was much anticipated and he was received with much joy by fans and teammates. Of course, with a lockout looming, it was uncertain whether or not Tarasenko would go back to the KHL or remain in North America to play for the Peoria Rivermen of the AHL. As recently as last week, it had been reported that his KHL deal had fallen through due to some last minute demands made by his agent. In spite of these reports, Tarasenko signed with SKA yesterday, excited for the chance to play alongside of Ilya Kovalchuck, whom he regards as a Russian superstar.
While not quite an overseas singing, it has been announced that David Perron will likely be participating in “Le Tournée des Joueurs,” a charity league that will play twice a week in various locations around the province of Quebec. Other reported participants include a number of Quebec natives and current Montreal Canadiens players. The tour is said to be the “brainchild” of Max Talbot and Bruno Gervais.
As of the moment, that’s all the news we have regarding the Blues and their lockout plans, but more rumors and confirmed signings are sure to happen in the coming weeks; be sure to stay tuned in!