Alexei Yashin (79), from Russia, shoots and scores. (AP File \'06/Kevork Djansezian)
The Russian centre agreed to terms on a one-year contract with Locomotiv (Yaroslavl) of the Russian League on Friday, bolting the NHL after 12 seasons. Russian teams do not disclose financial terms but The Canadian Press confirmed that the deal does not include an out clause to return to the NHL next season.
"Alexei has a history with Yaroslavl, having played several games for them during the lockout," Todd Diamond, who represents Yashin along with Mark Gandler, told CP on Friday. "He feels comfortable with them, having a North American coach (Paul Gardner) and a former teammate, Randy Robitaille, being there as well next season."
Diamond said other NHL teams came calling - although it's believed with low-ball offers - but that Yaroslavl was relentless in its bid.
"They came after him very strongly," said Diamond. "He's going to go there and have a great year. . . . We'll see where we are 10 months from now.
"Right now the city is electric, everyone is excited, the arena will be packed and Alexei will play hard."
A call to Yashin was not immediately returned.
The 33-year-old was an unrestricted free agent after the New York Islanders bought out the remaining four years of his 10-year contract.
Yashin had 50 points (18-32) in 58 games last season, missing 24 games with a sprained knee, and falling out of favour with head coach Ted Nolan after a promising start to the season. He had no points in the Islanders' five-game playoff loss in the first round to the Buffalo Sabres.
He has 781 points (337-444) in 850 career regular-season games in the NHL. His best NHL season was 1998-99 in Ottawa when he had 94 points (44-50) in 82 games.
His departure means Ottawa's first two first-round picks in franchise history are no longer in the NHL, Yashin going second overall in the 1992 NHL entry draft and Alexandre Daigle - now playing in Davos, Switzerland - chosen first overall in 1993 by the Senators.
The Islanders signed Yashin to a US$87.5 million, 10-year deal in 2001 after acquiring from Ottawa in exchange for top defenceman Zdeno Chara, a first-round pick the Senators used to draft top-line centre Jason Spezza, and winger Bill Muckalt.