Not being able to skate for Ak Bars,Sergei Zinovjev (Boston Bruins) is reportedly once again entertaining an option to return to the NHL, this time with the Montreal Canadiens. The Boston Bruins still own the player’s rights, so Montreal would have to negotiate with that club before the talented center could sign a deal. However, that is likely the least of the NHL club’s problems, since they would have to weigh long and hard whether Zinovjev is serious about the NHL this time around. The young forward has also had run ins with management of pretty much every club he skated for (broke Spartak’s deal when felt it was time to leave by alleging the free apartment clause wasn’t being honored, left Lokomotiv without fulfilling expectations, left Metallurg Novokuznetsk and then badmouthed the city, etc.). Still, he has skated for quite a few seasons with Ak Bars recently before these difficulties started to surface. In any case, while his NHL arrival is unlikely, it would definitely be an interesting twist in this young player’s entertaining career.
Excerpt from the New York Times article by Jeff Z. Klein (READ MORE):
The best line in the Russian K.H.L. officially broke up over the weekend when the league ruled that Ak Bars Kazan forward Sergei Zinoviev was no longer under contract to the team.
Zinoviev, with Ak Bars since 2002-03, centered the league’s top line with Alexei Morozov and Danis Zapirov on his wings. That same troika also starred for the national team in recent years.
But early this season Zinoviev had a run-in with coach Zinetula Bilyayetdinov, who demoted him to the fourth line. Zinoviev eventually filed a grievance with the league, claiming that his wages had also been cut, a move that would void his contract with Ak Bars. The Tatar club denied the charge, but on Saturday the K.H.L. ruled in Zinoviev’s favor, making him a free agent. Ak Bars, who were fined 3 million rubles ($106,000), said they would appeal to a sports arbitration body.
I will be posting more as things develop over the next few days. There was an article a few days ago in La Presse where I believe Julien Brisebois denied the report so there are conflicting reports.
Pierre McGuire was asked on The Team 990 what he thought of the speedy Sergei Zinovjev and here is my paraphrased version of his assessment:
- Plays bigger than his stature (5’10″ 175lb) and isn’t afraid to go to the net.
- Has a nose for the net, exceptional speed, great wrist/snap shot and lightning quick moves.
- He also stated that he thought Zinovjev was bigger than his listed size, especially his weight, saying he had a thick frame.
The only concern that I would have is that Zinovjev has a history of breaking contracts and locking horns with coaches/management.
His recent conflict with AK Bars was completely justified but you would have to wonder how much it would cost to bring him back to the NHL with huge contract being dished out in the KHL (even with economic instability in the oil industry which “fuels” the KHL finances).
Zinovjev is reportedly good enough to play in the NHL though there would be a concern of him bolting back to Russia if sent to the AHL.
If I were Bob Gainey and there is some truth to these rumors, I would be very hesitant about signing Zinovjev who would want some gurantees and a decent one way NHL contract. The question that needs to be asked is: Do the Canadiens need another offensively talented small forward? They already have similar players in Tomas Plekanec and Saku Koivu so is there a need for another one.
Update 08/12/09 at 17h50:
It would appear that Zinovjev is a “free agent” who can negotiate with any NHL team without any compensation to Boston.
The stumbling block for any team which try to sign him is that he must pass through entry waivers before playing for that team. Another team which is lower in the standing could put a claim on him thus voiding the contract offer with the other team…..so much for being a “free” agent!!!