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Russian Federation wants players back in KHL for 2018 Winter Olympics

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AP

Published 10:14 a.m. ET April 5, 2017 | Updated 8 hours ago

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The NHL made it official that its players will not be allowed to participate in the 2018 Olympics in South Korea.
USA TODAY Sports

Russia hopes the lure of playing in the Olympics draws some players back home to the Kontinental Hockey League.

The Russian Hockey Federation said Wednesday it will try to keep KHL players from leaving for North America and attempt to bring NHL free agents back this summer. That could include pending free agents such as the Montreal Canadiens’ Andrei Markov and Alexander Radulov.

“In Russia, all the necessary conditions will be created to grow their skill and readiness to play for the national team,” board chairman Arkady Rotenberg said in a statement.

Washington Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin plans to represent Russia at the 2018 Olympics in South Korea despite the NHL announcing it would not participate. Rotenberg said the federation will help players with legal issues so they can play.

For those without contracts like Markov, Radulov and Buffalo Sabres defenseman Dmitry Kulikov and restricted free agents Washington’s Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov and the Colorado Avalanche’s Mikhail Grigorenko, there will be plenty of interest from the KHL. Still, it’s unlikely that the Olympics alone would be enough to make top Russian players leave the NHL.

“I don’t think it changes the dynamic of who wants to play in the KHL and who wants to play in the NHL,” agent Jay Grossman said.

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