Svitov, 24, signed a two-year contract with Columbus on July 2 that would pay him US$1 million this season. No financial details were released of his deal with Omsk, his home town club. Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson said he would investigate the signing.
“We were informed by Alexander’s agent that he has signed a contract to play with Avangard Omsk this season,” Howson said in a statement. “We will explore the situation in greater detail with respect to Alexander’s contract status and will make a decision after reviewing our options. While this news comes as a disappointment, it creates an opportunity for other players when we open training camp next month.”
The six-foot-three 228-pound Svitov was drafted third overall by Tampa Bay in 2001 but never developed into the high-scoring power forward he was slated to become.
In 179 NHL games, he had 13 goals and 24 assists.
Last season, he had seven goals, 11 assists and 145 penalty minutes. He was acquired by Columbus in 2004 for defenceman Darryl Sydor, plus an exchange of draft picks.
Russian players have been trickling back to their home country the last two seasons, lured by attractive salaries and the lack of a transfer agreement between the Russian league and the NHL.
Former New York Islanders centre Alexei Yashin, an unrestricted free agent, recently signed with Locomotiv Yarolslavl. And former Montreal Canadiens forward Alexander Perezhogin, a restricted free agent, inked a $1.8 million deal with Salavat Ufa on May 8.