Flyers’ Fedotov ahead of a career-altering 2023-2024

Flyers' Ivan Fedotov
FILE – Russian Olympic Committee goalkeeper Ivan Fedotov (28) reacts after a goal by Finland’s Hannes Bjorninen during the men’s gold medal hockey game at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 20, 2022, in Beijing. The International Ice Hockey Federation has ruled in favor of the Philadelphia Flyers by agreeing that Russian goaltender Ivan Fedotov had a valid NHL contract for the upcoming season. The decision rendered Monday, Aug. 14, 2023, paves the way for Fedotov to play in North America, like he planned to do a year ago before being conscripted into the Russian military. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek, File)
(AP Photo/Petr David Josek, File)

More than a year ago, Ivan Fedotov signed an entry-level contract with the Philadelphia Flyers. He had an outstanding 2021-2022 season with CSKA Moskva, leading them to hoist the Gagarin Cup due to his incredible performance between the posts. Additionally, he helped Russia win the silver medal at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

Flyers' Ivan Fedotov
February 20, 2022, Beijing, Hebei, China: PESONEN Harri of Finland #82 shoots but is stopped by goalie FEDOTOV Ivan of Russia during the Ice Hockey Men’s Gold Medal Game between Finland and Russian Olympic Committee on February 20th in Beijing, China. (Photo by Mickael Chavet/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire) ****NO AGENTS—NORTH AND SOUTH AMERICA SALES ONLY****

He spent his entire hockey career in Russia, preparing to come to North America. Fedotov would’ve competed for a roster spot in the NHL with the Flyers.

Then, in St. Petersburg, Fedotov was detained by the military registration and enlistment office under the notion he was evading service for the Russian Army.

Missing all of 2022-2023 doesn’t help Fedotov. His NHL contract with the Flyers tolled 2023-2024, meaning he can fulfill his contract next season. Fedotov has to make a career-altering decision. Soon, he’ll have to choose between the KHL and NHL.

CSKA Moskva broke the good faith between the KHL and NHL in a climate where a memorandum of understanding doesn’t exist. On July 8th, 2023, CSKA Moskva signed Fedotov to a two-year extension through 2024-2025. It breached the contract Fedotov agreed to with the Flyers in May 2022, which was tolled due to the inability to fulfill the agreement. The IIHF had to intervene. Yesterday, the IIHF announced the contract Fedotov agreed to with the Flyers is valid.

Sanctions, dealt from the IIHF to Fedotov and CSKA Moskva, were announced along with the ruling. Fedotov received a suspension from national and international play until 2024, and CSKA Moskva received a one-year ban on international transfers due to their awareness of the contract situation. For Fedotov, the suspension does not include the NHL; he could play his first complete hockey season since 2021-2022.

2023-2024 NHL Fulfillment

Per the IIHF verdict, Fedotov cannot return to the KHL until 2024. Before then, it is paramount that the Flyers figure out what they’ll do with him.

Fedotov can participate in the NHL when the Flyers Training Camp begins. Coaches would assess his translation to the NHL. For Fedotov, it would be the best choice to optimize his time.

By January 2024, if Fedotov and the Flyers are still in limbo, it would be a season and a half of missed opportunities on the ice, to which patience could wear thin.

At the end of 2023-2024, Fedotov will become an unrestricted free agent. He could fulfill his contract with the Flyers, then choose to remain with Philadelphia or sign with a different NHL team. An alternate route shows an avenue where Fedotov could choose the KHL in January 2024, leaving Daniel Briere with a tough decision to cut ties, which could become a butterfly effect of how hockey negotiations work between the NHL and KHL in the current climate. These nuances are uncertain but available before the midway point of next season.

Position Battles

Originally, Fedotov signed his entry-level contract, slated to compete with Felix Sandstrom for a spot in the Flyers’ lineup to support Carter Hart.

Once it became apparent that the Flyers wouldn’t have Fedotov last season, Sam Ersson contested for the backup goaltender role. Ersson succeeded, cracking the 2022-2023 opening night roster.

Now, Cal Petersen crowds the room. He’ll compete to back up Hart but must overcome Ersson. A season ago, Petersen reflected numbers that deserve another stint in the AHL.

In Philadelphia, Fedotov could push to compete in the NHL. More importantly, he could return to hockey. Fedotov, 26, is at an age when a goaltender would typically be in their prime. He’ll have a season to act on his decisions, and if Fedotov chooses to commit to the NHL path, the Flyers will happily accommodate.

(AP Photo/Petr David Josek, File)