Prospect Nikolay Prokhorkin headed back to Russia – or is he?

Nikolay Prokhorkin CSKA KHL MayorsManor Kings“Just when they think they have the answers, I change the questions!” – Roddy Piper, circa 1985.

Whoever writes those great Russian spy novels needs to start documenting the ongoing case of Nikolay Prokhorkin. Selected by the Kings in the fourth round of the 2012 NHL Draft, his story is one of intrigue, mystery, disagreements, confusion and occasional brilliance.

The 6-foot-2 forward was also drafted by the London Knights in the OHL Import Draft and then later traded to the Barrie Colts. But, we’ll get back to that in a minute.

After dazzling onlookers at the Kings annual summer Development Camp this past July, Prokhorkin was signed to a three-year Entry Level Contract by GM Dean Lombardi. Then, as reported here, the KHL cried foul – claiming CSKA Moscow had the highly talented forward under contract until 2015. Meanwhile, he’s been playing for the Kings’ AHL affiliate in Manchester.

So, we’re up to five teams, four leagues and three countries involved at this point…and that’s all in the span of just a few months.

A few weeks ago the case went to arbitration, where the NHLPA was looking to validate his NHL contract or perhaps invalidate his KHL contract, depending on your perspective. Cooler heads seemed to prevail earlier this week when the KHL announced the NHLPA had withdrawn its claim and would honor/acknowledge his previous contract.  The Russian league also applauded the move in an official statement posted on their website, noting in part that this “eliminated a dangerous precedent that can undermine the principles of relationships (between the) KHL and NHL.”

Prokhorkin did not practice with the Monarchs on Tuesday and he officially left the team following their game on Wednesday (he didn’t play either). So, his initial North American stats line looked like it would read – eight games played in Manchester, no goals, one assist and a plus-2 rating.

Pump the brakes though, not so fast.

Like with Piper in the mid-80s, the questions about Prokhorkin’s immediate future may be changing faster than the answers are coming in.

It appears the Kings are determined to explore all options before letting him go.  And for some reason, that statements conjures up visions of a sign that hangs in Lombardi’s office at the Kings practice facility – ‘When bluffing… a pair of balls beats everything!’

With the options as clear as mud at the moment, we can only speculate.  Perhaps the Monarchs could do an AHL tryout contract with him, similar to what LA prospects Tyler Toffoli and Jordan Weal signed in recent years before they inked their Entry Level Contracts with the Kings.  Remember, Prokhorkin’s ELC was voided. So, technically, he doesn’t have a contract in North America at the moment.

Such a deal would appear to be a slippery slope though.  Sure, the AHL doesn’t have the same memorandum of understanding the NHL has with the KHL.  Yet, the affiliation agreement could make relationships between the world’s top two leagues a little more tense than they already are.

Which brings us back to Barrie. Is the OHL an option? It remains to be seen exactly how his situation there will play out if something can’t be worked out with the Monarchs. All the while, CSKA Moscow wonders if they’ll ever get back the player they signed to a three-year contract earlier this year.

Ah yes, the curious case of Nikolay Prokhorkin.

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  1. [...] There will be at least one line-up change for Manchester tonight, as Nikolay Prokhorkin left the team last Wednesday. More on that story here. [...]