Defenseman Sergei Gonchar of the Ottawa Senators was among the first wave of NHL players to sign in Europe to play during the lockout. With the imposing lockout a foregone conclusion, Gonchar and Pittsburgh centre Evgeni Malkin were practicing with Metallurg Magnetogorst of the KHL as early as last Thursday.
There have been some grumbling among hockey fans as to why players would jump at the
opportunity to make a maximum of 65% of their NHL salary while not willing to take a salary rollback in the NHL.
While the optics are almost as bad for the NHLPA as the flurry of signings by teams in the final days leading up to the end of the CBA, the two instances are like apples and oranges. For example, Gonchar makes $5.5M to play in Ottawa. The KHL allowance for locked out NHL players would be $3.575M. However, the percentage of cap space that would be used up by Gonchar in the KHL is much higher. As of 2009-10, the salary cap in the KHL was about $18.3M per team.
Plus, it is a temporary solution for the players, more of a way to just keep playing rather than it being their full time gig. A lot of things go into determining how much a player is worth in the NHL, and admittedly one of the biggest factors is ego. Revenues generated is another factor that sets the market value.