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Maxim Shalunov to stay in KHL for at least 3 more seasons, per report

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Well, there goes that option for now.

The Chicago Blackhawks won’t be seeing Maxim Shalunov suit up in the red, white, and black anytime soon. According to The Athletic, The KHL star has agreed to a three-year contract with Sibir Novosibirsk that sets him up to be traded to another team — CSKA and SKA are the top rumored suitors — in the coming days.

The Blackhawks will continue holding Shalunov’s rights due to the lack of a proper transfer agreement between the NHL and KHL. This is why the Hawks still hold the rights to goaltender Ivan Nalimov, and as long as 2016 draft pick Artur Kayumov stays in the Russian system, they’ll hold his rights indefinitely, too.

As Scott Powers reports, Shalunov now won’t be able to join the Blackhawks sooner than the 2020-21 season. At that point, he’ll be 27 years old, so he’ll be limited to a one-year entry-level contract that allows him to hit free agency quickly after coming over to North America.

There had been a slim chance that Shalunov would fail to reach an agreement in the KHL this summer and join Chicago, but those odds significantly decreased after the NHL opted out of the 2018 Winter Olympics. Shalunov reportedly wants to represent Russia at the Olympics in Korea, and he’ll have a much better shot while playing in the KHL at that time.

In 49 games with Sibir last season, Shalunov recorded 19 goals and 18 assists. He’s a big, skilled winger who could’ve gotten a significant opportunity on an ever-changing Hawks team next season. Instead, he’ll likely join one of the KHL’s powerhouses through 2020.