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Tim Stapleton leaves Jets for KHL

Sabres Jets Hockey

Winnipeg Jets’ Tim Stapleton (14) flips a pass over the stick of Buffalo Sabres’ Jordan Leopold (3) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Monday, March 5, 2012. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Trevor Hagan)


For the most part, Russian-born (and other European) stars tend to bolt for more lucrative contracts with the KHL. (Alex Radulov is the most convenient example.) Yet there is a smaller trend forming in the background: depth players - some even from North America - are beginning to view the KHL as viable option as well.

Ken Wiebe reports that (former) Winnipeg Jet Tim Stapleton has agreed in principle to a deal with the KHL’s Dinamo-Minsk. Stapleton had easily the best season of his young career in 2011-12, setting career-highs for goals (11), assists (16), points (27) and games played (63).

As mentioned earlier this off-season, Stapleton joins a lower-level exodus that also includes Mats Zuccarello, Erik Christensen, Sami Lepisto and Curtis Sanford. Even former Carolina Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice decided to give the upstart professional league a shot.

It’s not exactly the sort of raid that will leave NHL teams trembling, but it’s interesting to see marginal players get more bargaining power than they’ve likely ever enjoyed.

Since he’s on his way out of the league for at least a little while, I thought I’d leave you with this random AP photo where it looks like Jeff Skinner is giving him a “DDT.”

Jeff Skinner, Tim Stapleton

Carolina Hurricanes’ Jeff Skinner (53) gets taken off the puck by Winnipeg Jets’ Tim Stapleton (14) during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Raleigh, N.C., Friday, March 30, 2012. The Jets won 4-3 in overtime. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)