Montreal Canadiens: A Look At Former Habs Playing In The KHL

MONTREAL, QC - FEBRUARY 22: Laval Rocket (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
MONTREAL, QC - FEBRUARY 22: Laval Rocket (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /
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The KHL is a bit of an oddity in the context of the professional hockey landscape, and NHL teams like the Montreal Canadiens have slowly begun to know this all too well.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine and the countless players refusing to play in the KHL as a result (including former Habs farmhand Daniel Audette) is an entirely different can of worms, and one I will not be getting into at this present moment.

Regardless, it’s caused a bit of a riff in terms of how the talent pool spreads across international hockey, and that’s led to a higher level of play across leagues like the Swiss NLA and Finnish SM-Liiga. The KHL and the AHL have largely been the two main candidates when discussing what is the second-best hockey league in the world, and in all honesty, there isn’t a tremendous difference between the two, purely hockey-wise anyways.

Most of the struggles former NHLers and AHLers have when transitioning overseas is the larger ice surface. Some flourish, others don’t. Generic Marc Bergevin-type player #2 and former LA Kings staple Dwight King, was bought out of his KHL deal after one year.

Current Habs farmhand Phillipe Maillet was a star in the KHL the past two seasons for Magnitogorsk Mettalurg before returning to North America on a two-way deal with Montreal. Aside from higher pay and much, much, much lower quality of life sadly, the KHL is the modern-day equivalent of a league like the 70s WHA. Half the roster is NHL calibre and half isn’t, give or take.

In my distant past writing for this site, this is a topic I re-visited often, and there are, as usual, numerous former Canadiens playing overseas in various different leagues heading into 2023-24, productive or not. With that being said, here’s a brief look at a few of them I find interesting.