Detroit Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk met with general manager Ken Holland on Friday as he decides whether to play the last season of his NHL contract or return home to Russia to play in the Kontinental Hockey League, his agent Dan Milstein said.
Datsyuk will speak to the media Saturday at his hockey camp in suburban Detroit as he has planned to do for weeks, Milstein said. He is expected to reveal his decision then.
Holland is meeting with his staff to plan for the 2016 NHL Draft, which will be held at First Niagara Center in Buffalo on June 24-25, and NHL free agency, which starts July 1. He has said he would like Datsyuk to make a decision soon.
Datsyuk has one season left on a three-year contract at a $7.5 million NHL salary-cap charge, according to GeneralFanager.com. Should he leave for the KHL, the Red Wings would not have to pay him, but the money would count on their salary cap. They could trade his contract to a team willing to absorb the cap charge, but the question is what assets Detroit would have to include.
Before the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Datsyuk told the Detroit Free Press he intended to return to Russia, but later told reporters he was uncertain. After the Red Wings were eliminated by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference First Round, he said he needed to take his time before making any decision.
"I need a little bit to cool down and go out and start thinking about it more," Datsyuk said then.
Datsyuk played for Russia in the 2016 IIHF World Championship and returned to Detroit this week.