Despite Report, It’s Unlikely for Lubomir Visnovsky to Stay With HC Slovan (KHL)

Kevin Schultz

Lubomir Visnovsky has been in the news an awful lot since the last time we saw a hockey game. He got traded to the Islanders at the draft in June, was thinking about not coming to LI, crashed his Ferrari in Europe, and ultimately lost an appeal of the trade. So all in all, he’s still an Islander.

During the lockout, Visnovsky has been playing for HC Slovan of the KHL. It’s his home town team per se, as he skated with them during the last lockout and all the way back in 1999, prior to being drafted into the NHL. This afternoon, the Islander section of Twitter is lighting up about something Lubomir Visnovsky said following Slovan’s last game on Friday that might indicate he won’t re-join the Islanders in the coming weeks.

LĽubomír Višňovský enters into discussions with HC SLOVAN Bratislava general manager Maroš Krajči over a deal to remain with the club.

Despite the conclusion of the NHL lockout Sunday morning, with the NHL and NHLPA agreeing tentatively to a new collective bargaining agreement, and the proposed start of the 2012/13 NHL season, HC SLOVAN fans may not have seen the last of Ľubomír Višňovský yet. The popular defenceman received an offer from the club before today’s match against Metallurg Magnitogorsk. Following the end of the Metallurg game, where Višňovský and fellow Andrej Sekera received the appreciation of a sold-out Slovnaft Arena, Višňovský admitted that he highly considered the offer from the club.

Whether he wants to or not, Visnovsky is more than likely going to have to join the Islanders.

For starters, let’s all remember that this post come from HCSlovan.sk, the team’s website. It goes without saying that they might want to stoke the fire on this one. While news reports coming out of Europe are one thing, a story on a team’s official site could have a whole other agenda, just like it could in North America.

Secondly, while it makes sense for Visnovsky to want to stay in the KHL, it’s not likely. Of course, he’s gotten a taste of home for the last few months and it may seem like staying in the KHL would be ideal from his point of view. But Visnovsky staying in the KHL would open up a whole can of worms between the NHL and KHL that neither side likely wants to start a war about. Especially not over a 36-year old with six months left on his NHL deal (if this was Alex Ovechkin, might be a different story).

The KHL and NHL have a Memorandum of Understanding and while that’s not a rock solid transfer agreement, the two sides have abided by it since it was signed in June 2011 and re-signed in 2012. For either side to break it over a guy at the tail end of his career is unlikely. When push comes to shove, the KHL would likely tell HC Slovan to back off or else risk losing the positive relationship both sides have had in recent years.

Another option is that the Islanders and HC Slovan could work out a transfer agreement that would keep Visnovsky in the KHL. For the Islanders, a team that desperately needs to make the playoffs, it’s worth it to keep Visnovsky on the Coliseum ice for six months rather than take whatever money would be offered in return. The Islanders may have money issues, but they’re certainly not broke enough to sell Visnovsky for pennies on the dollar.

Finally, the Islanders could straight up use one of their compliance buyouts on Visnovsky but, again, that doesn’t make sense given they probably want him on the ice (plus those buyouts might not be available until June, when his contract is up anyway).

So take a deep breath, Islander County. Barring the KHL starting a war over a 36-year old defender who is six months from bolting for Europe anyway, I think we’ll see Visnovsky in an Islander uniform soon.