Star forward may leave the NHL for good.


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It appears as thought the NHL may get a little less talented next season, as one of the league's most skilled stars may wind up leaving for good.

Sportnet's Elliot Friedman reported Saturday on the "Headlines" segment of Hockey Night In Canada, that there is a "legitimate chance" that Detroit Red Wings' forward Pavel Datsyuk leaves for his native Russia, to play in the KHL.

From Friedman:

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, didn't exactly refute the report, but did make sure to mention his client's focus is on making the playoffs this year.

"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."

The 'Magic Man' signed a three-year, $22.5-million deal with Detroit prior to the 2014-15 season. However, the extension couldn't be made official until July 5, after Datsyuk's 35th birthday. Because of his age, the Red Wings would be on the hook for his salary, something the Wings' likely aren't too pleased about.

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. He has never been with any other team than Detroit since entering the NHL in 2001.

Images Courtesy of Keystone Press