Pavel Datsyuk's move to the KHL is now official as he has signed a two-year deal with top club SKA St. Petersburg, where he will join fellow ex-NHL star Ilya Kovalchuk. According to Aaron Ward, Datsyuk's contract is worth $7.6 million USD per season, slightly above what he was due to make with the Detroit Red Wings this season before opting to leave that year on the table.
The Red Wings traded the veteran forward to the Arizona Coyotes on Day 1 of the NHL Entry Draft to get rid of his cap hit, which would have remained on the books despite his not playing. The Coyotes will still incur a $7.5 million hit against their own salary cap, but owe Datsyuk no money.
Transfer card from Arizona Coyotes received and Datsyuk has signed SKA St Petersburg contract pic.twitter.com/6msiIbsjyX— Aaron Ward (@NHL_AaronWard) July 8, 2016
After getting his transfer card signed, a necessity for a player to be eligible to play in another country, all was clear for Datsyuk to join SKA, thus ending his brief on-paper tenure with the Coyotes.
Here he is in his new threads:
Russian national team coach Oleg Znarok, for whom Datsyuk played for in the 2014 Olympics and most recent World Championship, is also the head man at SKA. The team had a few holes to fill and surely will benefit from adding a star of Datsyuk's caliber as they look to get back to the top of the KHL. SKA last won the Gagarin Cup in 2014-15.
Datsyuk, now 37, did not have his best season with the Red Wings last year, but remained an effective two-way center. He revealed towards the end of the season that he intended to leave the team, forgoing the final year on his contract. Datsyuk cited his desire to be closer to his teenage daughter from a previous marriage and also wanted to play in front of his home country's fans before his skills had diminished.
Over 953 NHL games, all with Detroit, Datsyuk put up 918 points including 314 goals and 604 assists. He won the Stanley Cup twice. Three times he was awarded the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the league's best defensive forward and is a four-time Lady Byng winner for gentlemanly play. Datsyuk also was a Hart Trophy finalist following his 97-point season in 2008-09.
NHL fans will surely miss "The Magic Man," but that's what YouTube is for. He'll probably still put together a few highlights for us to enjoy. He is also on Russia's roster for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, which will be played in Toronto in September, which could be the last significant hockey he plays on North American soil.