Blog Entry

Veterans Sopel, Kovalev heading to KHL

Posted on: July 29, 2011 2:18 pm

By Brian Stubits

The NHL lost two free agents to the KHL on Friday as Brent Sopel and Alexei Kovalav are headed to the Russian league to continue their careers.

Sopel made the announcement himself on his Twitter account, saying "Two years in the KHL! So excited for this new opportunity!" More specifically, he inked the deal with Metallurg Novokuznetsk.

Sopel will be 35 next season and the defenseman hasn't put up more than 10 points in a season since 2007-08 with the Blackhawks. His best season came with the Canucks in 2003-04 when he scored 10 goals and had 32 assists. He split last season between the Thrashers and Canadiens.

He has seen his offensive numbers dip and his ice time has gone down, too, but it isn't as if he is a player that wouldn't interest any team at this point. Playing for the Thrashers last year he had a plus-7 in 59 games. Not bad considering the team he was on. Him going to the KHL is more a surprise than Kovalev.

Kovalev, meanwhile, will sign with Atlant Mytishchi according to Sport-Express.

Now 38, the Soviet Russian native played for the Senators and Penguins last season, scoring 17 goals with 19 assists. He has never had much of a problem scoring goals, tallying 428 over his career in the NHL that spanned 18 seasons.

For him it's a move you would expect. He's up there in age and gets a chance to finish out his playing career much closer to home, something that is becoming more and more common among the Russian veterans.

The moves, though, should put no fear in anybody that the KHL is creeping in on the free agents. The two leagues recently signed an agreement for signing players, but this appears to be a situation of veterans not finding interest from NHL squads.

Photo: Getty Images

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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 16, 2011 4:01 am
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Apr 16, 2009
Posted on: August 1, 2011 10:11 pm

Veterans Sopel, Kovalev heading to KHL

Kovalev needs to retire, saw him play when the Pens picked him up at the trade deadline and he sucked.  He would take shifts off and his overall performance was pitiful.  Granted, when he was with the Pens the first time he could change a game with a great shift, or like this year, a bonehead turnover in the defensive zone then skate non-chalantly around the ice while the other Pens would be scrambling back to prevent a scoring chance.  I can't even imagine how bad Yashin must be if no team in the KHL will offer him a contract but will sign Kovalev after the year he had. 

Since: Aug 31, 2009
Posted on: August 1, 2011 5:24 pm

Veterans Sopel, Kovalev heading to KHL

Alexei Kovalev...good riddance.

He was one of the more dynamic players years ago but has never lived up to the contracts he has played for over the past decade. If he still had anything left to offer an NHL team would be willing to pay for him but it has become painfully clear his time is up. Hopefully he ends his last few years on a high.

Since: Nov 7, 2010
Posted on: August 1, 2011 2:12 pm

Veterans Sopel, Kovalev heading to KHL

should have happened 10 years ago...thank god there gone

Since: Sep 20, 2006
Posted on: July 31, 2011 9:49 am

Veterans Sopel, Kovalev heading to KHL

If Kovalev could still play and score he would be playing in Pittsburgh or still be with the Sens.

Since: Apr 23, 2010
Posted on: July 31, 2011 12:47 am

Veterans Sopel, Kovalev heading to KHL

I'll miss Brent Sopel, but Kovalev? Not so much...

Since: Jul 1, 2010
Posted on: July 30, 2011 1:16 am

Veterans Sopel, Kovalev heading to KHL

I never would have guessed Sopel would leave his family to play in Russia for two years, didn't imagine this.    He must have really wanted what they are paying him or something's bad at home.   I would have thought he would have taken a big discount to stay within a 2 hour flight of his home in Chicago, missed that one.   Kovalev, no surprise.

Since: Mar 2, 2008
Posted on: July 29, 2011 10:53 pm

Veterans Sopel, Kovalev heading to KHL

Good for them.  They will not be missed, better then being stuck in the AHL/IHL or the Swiss league like in the oldern days.

Since: May 14, 2011
Posted on: July 29, 2011 8:52 pm

Veterans Sopel, Kovalev heading to KHL

I am surprised that these guys couldn't get decent contracts in the NHL.
Kovalev is long in the tooth, but he can still score and give a team quality minutes. 
Sopel is great on the penalty kill and blocks shots like crazy.
Oh well, more chances for younger players.

Since: Apr 17, 2009
Posted on: July 29, 2011 5:20 pm

Veterans Sopel, Kovalev heading to KHL

Don't let the door hit ya where the Good Lord split ya!

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