If you haven’t already heard, Vancouver Canucks general manager Mike Gillis was on an Edmonton-based radio station on Tuesday evening and when asked if he has any interest in the team’s Russian prospects Sergei Shirokov, Kirill Koltsov, and Ilya Kablukov, he responded by stating he’s close to signing the top player out of that group, who most believe to be Shirokov.
I’ve been digging for some more information and here’s what I’ve gathered so far: Shirokov is NOT a free agent, even though his contract with CSKA Moscow of the KHL has expired. Tell me how that makes any sense. Apparently, the KHL has rules in place that come into play during an economic crisis. This rule, which is applicable to all players under the age of 27 (Shirokov is only 23), would force Vancouver’s 6th rounder in 2006 to re-sign with CSKA Moscow. The problem is, due to a massive overhaul in the organization, Shirokov doesn’t want to re-sign. Therefore, he is currently in a legal battle with the club. Initially, it was believed that his reason for fighting CSKA Moscow on this was that he wanted to play for head coach Vyacheslav Bykov with Salavat Yulaev Ufa, but with Gillis’ recent announcement, it appears as though Shirokov wants to join the Canucks organization.
UPDATE: In other words (much simpler words I might add), Shirokov is apparently a restricted free agent; therefore, CSKA Moscow still owns his rights and apparently because of the before mentioned KHL rule in effect, they believe he must re-sign. This is why Shirokov has gone to court in attempt to cut ties with the organization.
UPDATE 2: According to this Russian website, Shirokov has officially signed a two year, two-way maximum entry level contract with the Vancouver Canucks.
I can’t say with 100% confidence that this is actually the situation, but this is what I’ve heard from a few people in Russia who follow CSKA. Anyways, if this signing does indeed come to fruition, which I believe it will, it would be a brilliant move by Gillis. Shirokov is a great talent who could really turn out to be a serviceable NHL’er.
Stay tuned for more.