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Top 18 Formers NHLers You Didn't Realize Were Still Playing in the KHL

There’s no doubt that the NHL is still the world’s best hockey league, but more and more players are now carving out careers in the KHL (Kontinental Hockey League), especially when their time in North

There’s no doubt that the NHL is still the world’s best hockey league, but more and more players are now carving out careers in the KHL (Kontinental Hockey League), especially when their time in North America has passed them by. But for different reasons, some players are also returning to Europe during the peak of their careers, such as Ilya Kovalchuk and Vyacheslav Voynov of Russia. Kovalchuk made the move shortly after signing a huge NHL contract while Voynov didn’t really have much of a choice since he was facing jail time and/or deportation in the U.S.

Some players aren’t paid as much, but can still make a good living in the KHL. It’s especially attractive to those who are older and find it hard to land an NHL contract during the twilight of their careers. This is a list of 18 former NHL players who have left North America and are still playing the game in the KHL. Most fans will be familiar with them and may be surprised to hear they’re still active. Most of them are from Russia or other parts of Europe as the majority of Canadians who skate in the KHL are journeyman.

The KHL was founded back in 2008 and consists of 28 clubs that are based in Russia, Finland, Belarus, Croatia, Slovakia, Kazakhstan, and Latvia. The league is regarded as the best in Europe and it plans further expansion to other countries. The League basically took over from the old Russian Super League and most Russian stars who made it to the NHL, such as Alexander Ovechkin, played in one of those two leagues before launching their careers in North America.

18 Lubomir Visnovsky

via sportky.zoznam.sk

17 David Booth

via vk.com

16 Sergei Kostitsyn

via fangfaction.com

15 Niklas Hagman

via mtv.fi

Speedy Finnish forward Niklas Hagman joined the KHL in 2012-13 and has skated with Jokerit for the past two seasons. He scored 14 points in 44 games this year and has racked up 62 points in 139 regular-season contests. Hagman played 770 NHL games with Anaheim, Calgary, Toronto, Dallas, and Florida after being taken 70th overall by the Panthers in the 1999 NHL Draft. The 36-year-old Hagman, who is the son of former NHL’er Matti Hagman, totaled 147 goals and 154 assists for 301 points during his NHL days.

14 Niko Kapanen

via hs.fi

13 Ladislav Nagy

via hokejportal.cz

12 Andrei Kostitsyn

via hockeyfeed.com

11 Martin Erat

via hokejportal.cz

10 Wojtek Wolski

via twitter.com

9 Alexei Ponikarovsky

via ska.ru

8 Maxim Afinogenov

via hockeyvips.com

7 Dmitri Kalinin

via eurohockeyleague.wordpress.com

6 Alexander Frolov

via khl.sk

5 Nikolai Zherdev

via vaihtoaitio.net

4 Jonathan Cheechoo

via espn.go.com

3 Alexander Semin

via ringgossip.wordpress.com

2 Andrej Meszaros

via khl.sk

1 Vyacheslav Voynov

via thehockeynews.com

Russian defenceman Slava Voynov would still be playing in the NHL with Los Angeles if he wasn’t charged with domestic abuse a couple of years ago. The 26-year-old was taken by the Kings with the 32nd overall draft pick in 2008 and scored 18 goals and 63 assists on the West Coast in 190 games. He also added 25 points in 64 playoff encounters and helped the Kings win two Stanley Cups. Voynov wasn’t very effective with just nine assists in a combined 36 regular-season and playoff games with St. Petersburg this season. His legal troubles in the U.S. mean he’ll likely never be back in the NHL.

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Top 18 Formers NHLers You Didn't Realize Were Still Playing in the KHL