The Russian Hockey Federation (FHR) and the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) announced significant changes on Tuesday that will affect several Montreal Canadiens prospects currently playing in Russia. Kudos to Hockey News Hub for first reporting these impending changes. While details are still scarce, I’ll do my best to interpret the available information.

The first major change is that the FHR and KHL have agreed that the league will become independent. Previously, the KHL operated under the FHR’s umbrella, similar to how Hockey Canada would oversee the National Hockey League (NHL). Now, the KHL is officially its own entity.

The KHL announced that they will continue to honor player contracts signed with foreign clubs and will release their players for the Olympics and IIHF (International Ice Hockey Federation) events. Currently, Russian athletes are banned from both the Olympics and IIHF-related events due to the invasion of Ukraine. However, this ban is only in place until the summer of 2024 for the Olympic Games and the 2024-25 season for IIHF events.

Additionally, KHL clubs will no longer need an IIHF Transfer Card to sign players from a foreign league. For more information about the IIHF Transfer process, you can click here to view the PDF file. There will also be future discussions about setting a limit on foreign players in KHL clubs, though this is already common in most leagues. Previously, Russian clubs were limited to five foreign players per season. Lastly, it was announced that the KHL season will now finish in May instead of April.


KHL And FHR Changes – Impact on Canadiens Prospect Demidov

What Does It Mean For Montreal Canadiens Prospects?

The KHL’s separation from the FHR marks a potentially significant shift in Russian hockey dynamics. This change suggests a move towards separating hockey from state control, a departure from how the country has managed its hockey federation since its inception in 1911.

However, it remains to be seen how decisions will be made and whether these changes will genuinely improve the league and impact player transfers. Optically, the changes suggest increased freedom for KHL players, including top prospects expected to transition to the NHL in the future. For instance, Philadelphia Flyers prospect Matvei Michkov terminated his contract with SKA and quickly signed his entry-level contract in the NHL prior to these changes.

This indicates that if the Montreal Canadiens want to expedite the transition of prospects like Demidov, Bogdan Konyushkov, and Yevgeni Volokhin, they need to negotiate agreements with their KHL parent clubs. Of course, achieving this may not be straightforward.

Fans will quickly suggest that the Canadiens should bring top prospect Ivan Demidov to North America as soon as possible, and there is some logic to this perspective. However, it’s important to remember that despite the recent exodus of talent, the KHL remains one of the top leagues in the world.

If Demidov were to be relegated to the VHL or, even worse, the MHL, the strategy of bringing him to Canada sooner would make more sense. On the other hand, for a player like Bogdan Konyushkov, who is already getting significant playing time in the KHL, it makes little sense to rush his development. His progress under head coach Igor Larionov has been substantial.

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