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Malkin, Ovechkin to Russia, Says Russia

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And Shea Weber to the Flyers

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

The KHL hasn't proven to be the international competitor to the NHL that it set out to be.

That's not to say its league President, Alexander Medvedev, doesn't think his league can lure its best national talent out of the NHL and back to the Motherland.

Over the weekend, Sport-Express caught up with Medvedev, who spoke to the possibility of luring top Russian talents, like Evgeni Malkin and Alexander Ovechkin, out of North America and into the KHL.

Against all odds, Medvedev's outlook was positive.

Very positive.

Via RMNB and Sport-Express,

Sport-Express: "When are we going to see [Ovechkin and Malkin] on KHL rinks, not just for a preseason charity game?"

Medvedev: "Are you talking about [Ovechkin and Malkin] returning to the KHL? Next season there may be pleasant surprises. Let's wait."

Ambitious, no?

Slava Fetisov, former Red Wing and current member of the Russian legislature, poured a little ice on the notion, questioning whether it was "realistic" that the KHL could or should reclaim its top talents from the NHL.

However, the fact that this is such a discussion, especially at a time when Russian nationalism is rising under Putin and overall Russian-American relations have just sheared their hull against an iceberg called Ukraine, is unsettling.

Is there a scenario in which relations between the two countries could deteriorate to such a point that the Russians would recall their athletes? Hard to say, and hard to imagine.

Bear in mind, this is a discussion that has gone on since the KHL's inception. Ilya Kovalchuk's defection was a big step in the direction of KHL poaching, but in all facets the NHL is the superior league. That Alex Ovechkin or Evgeni Malkin would defect despite holding two of the top annual salaries in the NHL seems a little absurd.

However, things can change. Especially next summer.

According to RMNB, the KHL's Memorandum of Understanding with the NHL -- in which the KHL promises not to steal Russian players under contract with NHL teams -- expires in June of next year.

Is that going to be an invitation to strike out after players like Ovechkin, Malkin and others? Time will tell.