Before the 2018 Winters Olympics got under way, there was already some chatter that some players, playing in the Kontinental Hockey League, wanted to return to the National Hockey League. We can finally see that one is coming to fruition or close, as rumors are intensifying that veteran forward Ilya Kolvachuyk is expected to sign with an NHL club - perhaps the New York Rangers - during the summer to make his huge comeback in the league. However, he won't be the only one it seems...
There are reports on Wednesday morning that another SKA Saint Petersburg player has notify the club that he will not return next season, in hopes of heading back to the NHL. However, his road might be a longer and more complicated one than Kovalchuyk's. Defenseman Slava Voynov has reportedly informed SKA Saint Petersburg he will not be back next season, and could try to return to the NHL despite leaving under a lot of heat and controversy, after he was convicted of domestic abuse back in 2014 when he was a member of the Los Angeles Kings. The Russian defenseman remains indefinitely suspended from the NHL over a 2014 incident that got him sentenced to 90 days in jail on a misdemeanour charge of corporal injury to his spouse Marta Varlamova.
Still, despite his domestic abuse conviction, he managed to clinch a spot on the Russian Olympic team, who ended up winning the gold medal. Back in January when the early chatter came to our ears that Voynov wanted back in the NHL, TSN insider Darren Dreger had explained on Insider Trading the many obstacles in his way.
"It's definitely a lengthy process. It first begins with the application for reinstatement. That's not expected to happen until the conclusion of his KHL season, so late April, perhaps early May. That would coincide with the expiration, the final year of his contract as well. It really gets complicated after that. There's not a lot the Los Angeles Kings, who retain his rights, can do in this process. He would have to meet with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman as part of a hearing and it's also expected that there could be additional discipline suspension applied upon his return. And what about the immigration issues? So there's a lot he has to go through to get back into the league."
There is no chatter on which teams might be interested in signing Voynov as of now. As Dreger mentioned prior to the Winter Games, Voynov will need to sit down with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and see if the suspension can be lifted or he would need to serve more time on the side line before returning to the ice as a member of an NHL team.
Do you believe he deserves to be back in the league?