According to a report from Complete Hockey News, which cites Russian language newspapers, former Los Angeles Kings defenseman Slava Voynov is expected to make a return to the NHL next season, following a three year stint in the KHL with St. Petersburg SKA.
Of course, Voynov was arrested and suspended from the NHL following domestic abuse allegations. His contract was voided by the Kings just six games into the 2014-15 season following the incident and his subsequent arrest and he hasn’t played an NHL game since. Now a 28 year old free-agent, Voynov is free to sign with whichever team he decides.
According to Complete Hockey News, there are five NHL teams in the running for Voynov’s services: the Florida Panthers, the Winnipeg Jets, the New York Islanders, the New York Rangers and the Montreal Canadiens.
The former 30+ point man in the NHL has been a productive defender in the KHL the past three seasons, scoring 21 goals and 59 points over that span. He put up four goals and 34 points in his last full NHL season during 2013-14, as well as two goals and nine points in 26 games during the Kings’ run to their 2014 Stanley Cup championship.
Voynov is a two time AHL All-Star, a two time Stanley Cup champion, a KHL All-Star, a KHL Gagarin Cup champion and an Olympic gold medalist. Despite his controversial past, it’s clear to see why his services are in such high demand. Most recently, North American fans might have seen him win gold with the Olympic Athletes from Russia team during the 2018 Winter Olympic games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Of the team’s who have reportedly shown interest in Voynov, the Islanders likely have the biggest need and the largest role for him to fill. Then again, if the rumors about Voynov’s KHL teammate Ilya Kovalchuk joining the Rangers are true, it may make sense for Voynov to join him in The Big Apple.
One thing's for sure, wherever Voynov ends up in the NHL, the team and the player are sure to receive some harsh criticism from fans, the media and potentially even other NHL players. While Voynov has gone through due process and served his punishment in the eyes of the law, the hockey world doesn't easily forget such matters.