The Penguins set out to improve their top-six forwards this offseason.
Phil Kessel is the big get. Days before trade talk centering on Kessel picked up steam, however, reports surfaced that the Penguins would be signing KHL defector Sergei Plotnikov once free agency opened up.
Plotnikov signed a one-year ELC last Wednesday, one that carries some hefty performance bonuses. It's a good starter deal for a player who wanted to make his first trip to the NHL.
Really wanted to, apparently.
From Jason Mackey at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,
Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford said Friday that Plotnikov, the Russian winger the Penguins signed on Wednesday, has informed the team he could arrive in Pittsburgh as soon as August to "get adjusted to the surroundings, the culture and work out."
"Without us asking, he's already talking about getting over here early," Rutherford said. "Some of the things he's done speak volumes of his character."
For example, Rutherford said, Plotnikov, 25, footed the $500,000 bill to terminate his Kontinental Hockey League contract.
"Not many guys would do that," Rutherford said.
We'd all give anything to play in the NHL, right? A cool half-million is the going rate, if you've got the change to spare.
With the termination of his contract, Plotnikov should be safe from the cratering transfer agreement that could keep other KHL players from jumping ship to the NHL.
A new deal was expected to allow KHL players to move to the NHL with the payment of a transfer fee. That agreement was tabled and the current one extended, in which players currently under contract couldn't make the jump (while free agents could).
Plotnikov is no longer under contract, willing to pay back that hefty personal transfer fee to nix his KHL deal for the opportunity to play with the Penguins.
There are plenty of ways to make your break in the NHL. Plotnikov may have found a new one.
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