Nik Antropov considering NHL return for upcoming season

Nik Antropov’s agent says the right winger is considering an NHL return after two seasons in the KHL. The 35-year-old Antropov hasn’t played in the NHL since the lockout-shortened season, when he scored six goals and 18 points for the Winnipeg Jets. In 788 career NHL games, Antropov has 193 goals and 465 points.

Nik Antropov could be heading back to North America to suit up in the NHL for the first time in two seasons.

According to a interview with Antropov’s agent, Schumi Babayev, the 35-year-old right winger is considering a return to the NHL for 2014-15, which would see him forego a contract offer from the KHL’s Barys Astana, the club with which the Kazakhstan native has spent his past two seasons.

“(Antropov will) make a decision: to pursue a career in the NHL or return to Barys,” Babayev said, according to a rough translation. “Proposal from Barys it has, they are constantly in contact. The decision depends on family circumstances. At last year Antropov has one son living in Canada, and now he will play in the AAA league, and whether to leave him alone – there is something to think about.”

Over the past two seasons in the KHL, Antropov has scored 15 goals and 47 points in 75 games. Though he’s aging, there may be a few NHL clubs willing to take a shot on a 35-year-old power forward. At 6-foot-6, 245 pounds, Antropov has size that won’t go away and could make him a decent net-front presence on a club’s power play.

Inking Antropov could be a gamble, however. He last suited up in the NHL in 2012-13 with the Winnipeg Jets, where he scored six goals and 18 points in 40 games. While that’s not abysmal production, it’s a far cry from the 24 goals and 67 points Antropov notched in 2009-10 before the Jets relocated from Atlanta to Winnipeg.

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From 2007-08 to 2009-10, Antropov was a consistent threat as a 20-goal scorer. He racked up 78 goals over those three campaigns, including a career-high 28 tallies in 2008-09 in a season that saw him dealt from the Toronto Maple Leafs to the New York Rangers at the trade deadline.

Antropov was a first-round pick, 10th overall, of the Maple Leafs in 1998 draft, and was a top-six winger for Toronto for several seasons before the trade to New York. His four-year, $16.25 million deal with Atlanta/Winnipeg, which he inked in July 2009, was the last NHL contract Antropov signed. Were he to head back to the NHL, he would have to take a healthy paycut, likely landing a one-year deal worth little more than $1 million. In 788 career NHL games, Antropov has 193 goals and 465 points.