For those unfamiliar with the situation, he was originally drafted by the Kings in the fourth round of the 2012 NHL Draft. A few months later he began the 2012-13 season in Manchester, with the Kings top minor league affiliate – only to have the KHL pull the rug out from under him.
One of the reasons Kings GM Dean Lombardi and his staff have been so comfortable taking Russian players in the Draft is they feel they do the proper amount of homework, avoiding what most clubs call ‘the Russian factor.’ In Prokhorkin’s case they felt they did just that and were confident he was not bound to any deals in Russia.
Low and behold, after he was already in Manchester and playing regular season games, the KHL produce a contract that was allegedly signed by his father before he turned 18. It bound him to CSKA of the KHL until the summer of 2015. In brief, the Kings and the NHL initially tried to fight it. However, after exhausting several legal options, the NHL and their member club opted to let him return to Russia.
Why would the Kings go through all this trouble over a fourth round pick, you may be asking? That should give you a strong indication of the kid’s skill level. For a cheap and easy comparison, think Alexander Frolov, only tougher in the corners. Last season, he posted 37 points (19 goals, 18 assists) in 52 games and was a KHL All Star. Even more impressive, as essentially a rookie in the league, he was getting more minutes than several well-known veterans on his team.
Hence the excitement that ensued stateside when word leaked out a few months back that Prokhorkin was buying his way out of the final year (2014-15) of his KHL contract and openly stated his intentions were to come back to North America. In fact, a deal looked to be in place for him with the Kings – only to have the KHL once again cry shenanigans.
This time around, they claimed he didn’t file his termination papers early enough. Apparently, he needed to file them a few months earlier.
So, where has this left things?
Chesnokov reports that Prokhorkin’s agent Andrei Mukhachov met with CSKA General Manager Sergei Federov yesterday and the two sides are working towards a new contract that will keep him in the KHL, most likely for one year. At this point, Prokhorkin appears to like that option, as it would pay him more money than he was making and allow him to further develop his skills, without having to spend a full season in the AHL.
It’s a bit of an awkward situation, as Chesnokov says CSKA is claiming they want him to stay, but aren’t demanding that he stay. Also, Fedorov believes Prokhorkin should play one more year in the KHL before heading to North America.
For the cynics, there is always the possibility Prokhorkin is using the idea of playing for Los Angeles as leverage, just to get a better deal in the KHL. Most believe that isn’t the case, including Chesnokov.
When a new contract is signed between CSKA and Prokhorkin, which is expected soon, we’ll likely have the final answer.
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