How Players Get Moved in the Russian Super League

By Eugene Belashchenko

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Player Transfers in the Russian Super League:

In the Super League players can
move or be moved between teams only at set times.There are breaks in the
season about every 20 games that range between three days and two weeks in
length. These breaks usually occur due to the International tournaments,
namely the EuroTour Tournaments. The EuroTour tournaments occur four times a
year and most European hockey nations temporarily stop their league season so
they can send their best players to the tournaments. The tournaments are Ceska
Poistovna (Czech Republic), Karjala Cup (Finland), Baltica Cup (Russia) and
Sweden Games (Sweden). Player movements are allowed only during these breaks in
the season.

Player movements can be
inititated either by the team or the player, depending on the contract between
the two entities. The player rarely has the right to initiate the transfer.
The team can initiate the transfer by waiving/releasing the player, loaning him
to another team for a set length of time or trading him.

Waiving/Transferring a Player:

As in the NHL, a team always
has the right to release a player. Depending on his contract, the team may owe
him some sort of a compensation package, but that is not very common in the
Super League. When a player is released, he is free to seek employment from
other teams. The contract the player had with the previous team is annulled and
the player reaches a new agreement with the new team that chooses to employ
him. A good example that occurred this season was when former Anaheim Mighty
Ducks NHLer Valeri Karpov was released by Dynamo Moscow after a sub par
performance during the first part of the season. He instantly resigned with his
previous team, Metallurg Magnitogorsk to a one year contract.

Loaning a Player:

A Super League team can loan
its players for a set period of time to another team in the Super League or any
of the lower leagues. Teams loan their players to other Super League teams
either because these players are not fitting in well in the lineup or the team
does not have the money to pay their salaries.

In the first case, teams often
loan their younger players to the weaker teams in the Super League so that they
could get more ice time and responsibility. A good example of this is Dynamo
Moscow, which replenished its lineup with many former NHLers and European
veterans, leaving little room for some talented younger players. Many of those
players, including Anaheim’s prospect Alexander Smirnov and Detroit’s Dmitri
Semenov were loaned to CSKA Moscow for the 2001-02 season in exchange for future
considerations. With CSKA both players played on the second and third lines,
something that was not attainable for them with Dynamo Moscow.

There have been cases of a team
lacking funds to employ its players and loaning them out in exchange for
cheaper, younger players until they found the funds. A great example of this
was SKA St. Petersburg during the 2000-01 season. The team lost its sponsors
prior to the season and as a result was forced to loan its best players to teams
ranging from Amur Khabarovsk to Severstal Cherpovets. SKA got a lot of young
and inexperienced players in return. The move was great for those players, who
logged a lot of ice time on a very high level of hockey, but SKA finished the
regular season dead last with only two (1) wins out of the 45+ games.


At the end of the agreed time
span, the players are returned to their teams or their loan agreement is
extended. It may be strange to see teams loan their players to teams that can
potential oppose them in the playoffs, but the system is effective in developing
young talent and maintain depth in the roster.

Trading Players:

Trades in the Super League work
just like they do in the NHL, but they don’t happen nearly as often as player
releases and loans. A good example of a trade that occurred this year was the
one between Spartak Moscow and Ak Bars Kazan. Spartak had a lot of defenseman,
but lacked an effective third line, while Ak Bars Kazan was very thin on defense
due to injuries and veteran players underachieving. Spartak sent Carolina
Hurricanes prospect, Igor Knyazev to Kazan in exchange for Pittsburgh Penguins
prospect Konstantin Koltsov. Besides the team needs, the relationship between
the player and the team came in play in this particular transaction. Tension
developed between Igor Knyazev and Spartak Moscow after he attended Carolina’s
training camp and then stayed behind to rehabilitate his back.š He never got a
chance to make a spot for himself in the lineup and it appears never made full
amends with Spartak’s Management. Sensing that he was likely to leave SPartak
after the 2001-02 season, they moved him to Kazan.š In Kazan, the tension
between Koltsov and Ak Bark was solely performance based. After two successful
campaigns, he started the 2001-02 campaign quite poorly, rarely earning a
point. This was not entirely his fault, – the whole team was doing poorly, but
Ak Bars’ management had to do something to jump start the team and Knyazev was
too good for them to pass up. So, in conclusion, trades work the same way they
work in the NHL – the players contract is assumed by his new team and the player
rights are traded for good. There have not been any cases where in a trade the
players old team “ate” part of his salary, but it is possible under the League’s

Eugene Belashchenko