Pavel Datsyuk, his agent and Detroit GM Ken Holland have said on several occasions that Datsyuk won’t be coming to a final decision on his future with the Red Wings until after the World Championship, so imagine the surprise when a report surfaced that he had signed a KHL deal.
According to a report from Russian outlet Sportfakt, Datsyuk has agreed to a two-year deal with the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg without actually signing on the dotted line. Financial terms were not reported, but Sportfakt said the contract would be signed around the time the World Championship came to a close.
However, shortly after the report surfaced, Datsyuk’s agent Dan Milstein told The Detroit News’ Ted Kulfan that the report was “inaccurate,” saying the Russian center hasn’t spoken with any team or media about his contract status. Milstein reiterated that Datsyuk and the Red Wings are slated to meet in mid-June after Datsyuk comes back from the World Championship where he is captaining the Russian squad and has one goal and eight points in nine games.
Speculation about Datsyuk’s career coming to a close had come earlier in the 2015-16 campaign, but it wasn’t until the end of the regular season Datsyuk confirmed the speculation. In speaking with the Detroit Free Press’ Mitch Albom, Datsyuk he “(thinks he is) done playing in the NHL,” adding that he felt it was time to return home. Complicating matters, though, is that Datsyuk has one year remaining on his contract, the full amount of which the Red Wings would be on the hook for as the contract was signed after Datsyuk was 35.
“Looking back, I wish I had done a year-by-year contract, not a three-year contract,” Datsyuk told Albom in April of the three-year, $22.5-million deal. “I stayed (last year) in respect for Ilitch family. I don’t want to leave team in disaster. But if I have to do over again, I would sign a different deal. I didn’t realize it at the time.”
Datsyuk would likely be the first to admit that his career is starting to wind down, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t still a fantastic two-way center with enough scoring ability to be a solid second-line pivot for the Red Wings. This past season, Datsyuk scored 16 goals and 49 points in 66 games, but he’s been unable to play a full schedule since the 2010-11 season and no more than 70 games in any of the past five full seasons. He only missed one game in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season.
If Datsyuk has signed a deal, it’s unlikely terms of the contract are disclosed before he makes his decision with regard to his NHL future official. So, whether it’s a contract in Detroit, St. Petersburg or elsewhere in the KHL, mid-June should be when we learn if we’ve seen the last of the ‘Magic Man’ in a Red Wings uniform.