Could Alexei Yashin be headed back to the Islanders?
Both general manager Garth Snow and Yashin's agent Mark Gandler confirmed to Newsday that the two sides have discussed a potential reunion with the 37-year-old Russian center, who was bought out by the club in 2007. The possibility was first reported by Russian outlet SovSport.
"I've had discussions with both Mark and Alexei," Snow said when reached by phone Friday. "I'd rather keep those conversations private, but Alexei has been skating at our practice rink in Syosset and he looks great. I've been on record saying I'd explore all options and any player that would improve our team and help us make that step."
Gandler confirmed the Islanders are the only NHL team interested at this point, but that his client--a two-time 40-plus goal-scorer-- has several KHL options still as well.
Neither Gandler nor Snow would confirm whether an offer has been made to Yashin.
"They've been good, honest discussions and we'll continue to talk," Gandler said. "It's growing in seriousness but I don't want to go beyond that. I think both sides would like to negotiate privately."
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said both camps are well within their rights in accordance with the current collective bargaining agreement to negotiate a new deal despite the fact the Islanders bought out the last four years of Yashin's contract in 2007.
"There are no rules that specifically prohibit re-signing a player that the club has bought out," Daly wrote in an email to Newsday. "Only concern would be if it was a potential case of cap circumvention. That wouldn't be a concern in Yashin's situation."
After his 2007 buy-out, Yashin returned home to Russia, where he has spent the past four seasons. He finished with 15 goals and 18 assists in 52 games for St. Petersburg of the Kontinental Hockey League. Incidentally, that is the same team goaltender Evgeni Nabokov played for before bolting back to the NHL-- and ultimately, the Islanders--late last season.
Yashin has remained close with team owner Charles Wang in recent years and has kept a home on Long Island, so when reports surfaced earlier this week that the former first-round (2nd overall) pick was drawing interest from one NHL team, the Islanders seemed a safe bet.
Regardless of whether the veteran center signs, the Islanders will carry his buyout cap hit of $2.204 million over the next four seasons.