The Detroit Red Wings may have a massive hole to fill on their roster this summer.
There's a "legitimate chance" center Pavel Datsyuk will forego the final year of his contract with the club in favor of returning to his native Russia and signing with a KHL club, Sportnet's Elliotte Friedman reported Saturday on the "Headlines" segment of Hockey Night In Canada.
We've all understood that at some point, Pavel Datsyuk would go back to Russia and play. There is a legitimate chance, according to sources, that might be after this season, and if it does occur, it would be for family reasons.
Datsyuk isn't commenting, and neither is the club. It is expected that everyone will sit down after the season for a final decision.
Now the key thing to remember here if he does go, his cap hit of $7.5 million stays on the Wings roster since he signed after he turned 35.
Datsyuk's agent, Dan Milstein, responded quickly, but stopped short of refuting the report.
"Pavel is concentrating on helping his team to make the playoffs and winning another Stanley Cup for the Red Wings," he told Ansar Khan of MLive. "Pavel also has one more year left on his NHL contract. We will sit down with Ken Holland at the conclusion of the season for our annual year end meeting."
Datsyuk, who's played solely for the Red Wings since entering the NHL in 2001, signed a three-year, $22.5-million deal with Detroit prior to the 2014-15 season. The extension couldn't be made official until July 5 - just over two weeks after his 35th birthday.
The two-time Stanley Cup champion and three-time Selke Trophy winner has recorded 16 goals and 31 assists in 62 games, and remains a key piece of the puzzle for the Red Wings.
With 916 points in 949 games with the Red Wings, he ranks sixth on the team's all-time scoring list.