Nearly three weeks after Jaromir Jagr returned to the NHL after several seasons abroad with the KHL, it appears as if another former NHL superstar could be on his way back as well.
Rumors have started to gain momentum that former New York Islander Alexei Yashin could be back on his way to the NHL after a four-year stint in the Russin KHL after it was announced today that Yashin’s team, SKA St. Petersburg, would not be renewing the 37-year-old’s contract for next year. Yashin’s agent has also reported that his client has already received a contract offer from one NHL team.
Yashin last played in the NHL for the New York Islanders in 2006-07 where he posted 50 points, including 18 goals, in 58 games. However, Yashin failed to score a single point in five playoff games and was eventually bought out by the Islanders at the end of the season thanks to questions about his level of effort in relation to his enormous 10-year, $87.5 million contract.
In 2009-10, Yashin enjoyed one of his best offensive season in years with 64 points in 56 games. However, Yashin severely declined last season when he posted only 33 points in 52 games.
Perhaps even more speculative than a potential return to the NHL is Yashin’s potential impact on a contending team looking for an offensive boost. While it was still considered a gamble for the Philadelphia Flyers to sign Jaromir Jagr to a one-year contract three weeks ago because of Jagr’s time away from the NHL game, his production at the World Championships showed that Jagr still has what it takes to play at the highest level. That may not be the case with Yashin who has shown inconsistencies over the last several seasons and hasn’t played at a national stage against the world’s top competition since 2006 as a member of the Russian Olympic team.
With several teams still beneath the salary cap floor, there is chance that a team could toss a large one-year deal at Yashin in an attempt to both meet the floor and possible garner some scoring depth. Before being bought out by the Islanders, Yashin was very keen on the idea of returning to the Ottawa Senators, the team that drafted him second overall in 1992. However, the Senators were not interested at the time in bringing Yashin back into the fold. Could they be interested in Yashin now as a free agent?
Pittsburgh and Detroit could also get in on Yashin after missing out on Jagr. On both teams, Yashin would be looked upon to provide depth scoring instead of being the central figure of the team’s offense. Could Yashin be the winger the Penguins desperately seek for Sidney Crosby?
Regardless, after watching the Jagr drama drag on for months, don’t get your hopes up on anything happening with Yashin in the immediate future. Yashin hasn’t commented on his willingness to even return to the NHL despite the supposed offer and could opt to sign with another club in the KHL.