Last week we passed along the report that Alexei Yashin's KHL contract would not be renewed, and the claim from his agent that at least one NHL team was interested. It appears that team is Yashin's most recent NHL employer (and the one that's still paying him): the New York Islanders.
Following a report from Sovetsky Sport on Friday that the Islanders and Yashin were in talks, Katie Strang of Newsday also confirmed that agent Mark Gandler and Islanders general manager Garth Snow have discussed a possible return to Long Island. Yashin's contract was bought out by the Islanders in 2007 and he still counts over $2 million against their salary cap through the 2014-15 season as a result of that buyout.
Said Snow, via Newsday:
"I've had discussions with both Mark and Alexei," Snow said when reached by phone Friday. "I'd rather keep those conversations private, but Alexei has been skating at our practice rink in Syosset and he looks great. I've been on record saying I'd explore all options and any player that would improve our team and help us make that step."The news of the Islanders interest has certainly drawn some mixed reviews. Chris Botta at Islanders Point Blank wonders how, with the future of the franchise at stake, the Islanders can contemplate such a move, even if it's to help Yashin's value on the open market at a time when they need 100 percent of their fans support. And the return of Yashin would certainly have the potential to be a polarizing move within the Islanders fan base.
The Islanders are still $9 million below the NHL's salary cap floor with 20 players currently under contract for the upcoming season. It's hard to believe that Yashin, at this point in his career -- he's 37 and coming off a 15-goal season in Russia -- with no other reported interest from any other NHL club, could demand a huge pay day.
Yashin's potential return to the Islanders, as well as the entire Jaromir Jagr saga that unfolded earlier this month, have been two of the more bizarre stories to follow in recent years, and this one might be the craziest.