Hurricanes' Alexander Nikishin meets with Vladimir Putin as NHL fans term it a red flag: "It's so over"

Hurricanes' Alexander Nikishin meets with Vladimir Putin as NHL fans term it a red flag: "It's so over"

Carolina Hurricanes prospect Alexander Nikishin met with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The move garnered mixed responses from NHL fans, with some terming it a red flag.

Nikishin is a Russian defenseman selected by the Hurricanes in the third round of the 2020 NHL Draft from the KHL. He and his team, SKA, recently met with Putin at the new SKA Arena. A tweet from a prominent hockey page on X, covering NHL prospects in the KHL, read,

"#CauseChaos prospect Alexander Nikishin and SKA met today with Russian president Vladimir Putin. Putin and Belarussian Alexander Lukashenko came to tour the new SKA Arena. #KHL."

The meeting quickly caught the attention of NHL fans, and their reactions were varied. Some fans expressed concern, with one tweeting,

"It’s so over."

Another tweeted,

"It has never been as over as it is right now. Goodbye sweet prince."

Another fan added a speculation, tweeting,

"Just wait until he gets a photo op with Michkov."

The ongoing Russian conflict with Ukraine and its subsequent impact on the NHL has led to these diverse opinions. Fans are concerned that Nikishin will face problems in joining the NHL.

Why hasn't Alexander Nikishin played for the Carolina Hurricanes yet?

In August 2022, Alexander Nikishin signed a three-year contract with Spartak in the KHL, adding complexity to his potential transition to the NHL. Unlike other international leagues, the KHL lacks a player transfer agreement with the NHL.

Although a memorandum of understanding (MOU) existed, the NHL suspended its communication aspect following the situation in Ukraine. This suspension has made communication between NHL teams and the KHL and between players, agents, and teams challenging.

For the Carolina Hurricanes, who own Nikishin's rights, honoring his contract with Spartak has become a requirement due to these communication constraints. Generally, the only way Nikishin could leave Spartak before 2025 would be through mutual agreement to terminate the contract. It's an unlikely scenario, given the Hurricanes' investment in obtaining him.

Nikishin has shown promising potential for the NHL, presenting a "high reward" element. However, the Hurricanes might weigh his future value against his present value, considering the complications arising from the lack of communication between the NHL and KHL.

The situation adds an element of uncertainty to Nikishin's potential transition to the NHL. It makes it contingent on various factors, including the solution of communication challenges between the two leagues.

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Edited by Abhimanyu Gupta