MOSCOW, June 19 (R-Sport) – Four powerhouse KHL teams doled out more than $7 million on NHL players who came to Russia during the four-month lockout last season while 15 other franchises spent less than $2.3 million, according to league figures released on Wednesday.
CSKA Moscow paid a league-high $10.1 million for the likes of Detroit Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk, Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov and Toronto Maple Leafs center Mikhail Grabovski, which was more than the total 2012-2013 payrolls of eight franchises.
With the KHL set to increase the salary cap next season by more than $2 million, the new figures speak to widespread disparity in the eight-country league, where only three of the 26 clubs last season came within $3 million of the $34.7 million ceiling. Only 12 of the 26 had payrolls within $15 million of the cap, while Dinamo Riga, Slovan Bratislava and Metallurg Novokuznetsk spent less than $6 million.
In total, teams paid more than $46 million for locked-out NHL talent.
Notably, CSKA’s heavy expenditures amounted to more than the year-long payrolls of Amur Khabarovsk, Sibir Novosibirsk, Spartak Moscow, Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg, Vityaz Chekhov, as well as the Riga, Bratislava and Novokuznetsk franchises. Of the eight, only Slovan and Sibir made the playoffs.
CSKA finished with the third-best record in the Western Conference but lost in the playoff semifinals.
Metallurg Magnitogorsk, which had the seventh-highest payroll excluding NHL players, paid $7.9 million to import then-Ottawa Senators defenseman Sergei Gonchar, Maple Leafs wing Nikolai Kulemin and Pittsburgh Penguins star Evgeni Malkin.
Dynamo brought over Washington Capitals forwards Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom and former Maple Leafs forward Leo Komarov for a combined $7.4 million.
SKA St. Petersburg forked over $7.3 million during the lockout, which lasted from September 15, 2012, until a verbal deal was struck on January 6, 2013.
Seven clubs did not hire NHLers, including Gagarin Cup finalists Traktor Chelyabinsk and Salavat Yulaev Ufa, which had the second-highest payroll last season at $32.4 million.
Medvescak Zagreb and the expansion Admiral Vladivostok become the KHL’s 27th and 28th franchises next season.