There is finally an ending to the Ivan Fedotov saga that has lasted over a year. The Philadelphia Flyers turned to the IIHF for a final ruling on whether or not the contract he signed in the NHL was valid and indeed tolled for this upcoming season. After reviewing all of the documents and hearing arguments from both sides, a final ruling has been made.
The IIHF has ruled that the Flyers had a valid contract in place for Fedotov. By signing the deal with CSKA, they ruled that Fedotov was in breach of a Professional Player Contract. He was given two weeks to go back to Philadelphia or obtain a release from them. Since neither happened, Fedotov has now been suspended for four months in all national and international games. CSKA has been banned for a full season in regard to International Transfers as they were presumably aware of his deal with the Flyers. CSKA does have a seven day window to challenge the IIHF ruling and would have full support from the Russian Ice Hockey Federation.
The Flyers have been fighting hard to bring Fedotov over from Russia ever since they signed him to an entry-level contract after his 2021-22 season. He was expected to join the team and compete for a spot behind Carter Hart. That is until he was detained and forced into a year of military service. His contract would be tolled as he was unable to fulfill it, moving it to the 2023-24 season. However, CSKA Moscow would sign him to a two-year deal after he returned from service last month. They believed that Fedotov only had a one-year contract with the Flyers prior to this season and that it was no longer in effect.
Despite the Memorandum of Understanding being gone between the NHL and KHL, there was still an unspoken agreement that the two sides would not interfere with each other. The KHL went back on that by registering Fedotov’s contract even though he had signed an NHL deal. His signing was announced and off to CSKA training camp he went . When Fedotov was made available to the media for the first time recently, he said that he would honor whatever decision both sides came to as he just wanted to continue his hockey career. Though he did said, in a separate interview, that he was happy in Russia at this time. The level of training and competition also wasn’t the same during his service time. So he has not played at a high level since the 2021-22 season. It would be understandable if he was just happy to be back on the ice.
There is some confusion in regard to if Fedotov will actually come to Philadelphia or not. The IIHF has simply ruled that he has a valid contract with the Flyers, but did not specify that he has to play in the NHL. His contract with CSKA was not voided either, so he could wait out the four month suspension and return to play in Russia. With the Flyers crowded goaltending room and the lack of playing time for Fedotov, the circumstances wouldn’t be ideal if he was to come over. Philadelphia could simply loan him back to CSKA, but would that just make this fight all for nothing?
If he does make the jump to the NHL, though, the Flyers already have Hart, Cal Petersen, Sam Ersson, and Felix Sandstrom fighting for playing time. With Fedotov being so far removed from competitive hockey, it is fair to assume that he may not be ready to compete. This could be one of the reasons he ends up not coming over despite the ruling. However, the Flyers are unlikely to have fought this hard if they didn’t believe he would be able to play in the NHL at some point. Should he come over, it’s fair to wonder if he gets a small amount of time in Lehigh Valley simply to get him back in game shape. There’s not a rush to have him play NHL games.
The Flyers could also give him plenty of preseason action to test his game out as well. With how hard Philadelphia has fought up until this point, it seems as if Fedotov would see plenty of time at the NHL level. The rumors around Hart’s status have continued to circle whether it’s about a trade or otherwise. While taking on Petersen in the Ivan Provorov trade, his previous numbers leave a lot to be desired. Sandstrom’s numbers aren’t great while Ersson doesn’t have a lot of experience at the NHL level despite some strong results and his recent new contract.
Regardless of the reasons they have went to these lengths, it will be interesting to see how/if he performs at this level. Fedotov has had success in the KHL, leading CSKA to the Gagarin Cup in his last season. He went 14-10-2 in the regular season and followed that up with 16 wins in 22 post season games. He went from a .919 SV% to a .937 SV% in the playoffs. Fedotov was a finalist for the KHL’s top goaltender of the year after that season.
Time will tell what form he will be in if he comes to Flyers training camp begins next month. He has been on the ice with CSKA during their own camp recently so he’s been able to keep in some kind of shape. The Flyers are ready to see what Fedotov can do and now they could finally have the chance to see him in person.
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