Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 05/17/11 at 04:49 PM ET
Today, a guy named Dmitry Chesnokov, who is a contributor to the Puck Daddy blog, tweeted that Hurricanes prospect Oskar Osala has signed with Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk “Petrochemists” of the KHL. He went on to say that the official announcement will be made once the Calder Cup playoffs are over (although he wrote “AHL season”). He was, evidently, getting his information from a Finnish rumor site.
We were surprised to see this, then relieved when Oskar himself contradicted the tweet. The flat denial could be a deflection so the Checkers can concentrate on their task at hand. They’re down 2 games to none in a best-of-seven series with the Binghamton Sentators. After losing games one and two at home, they have the task of having to win at least two of the three straight road games.
It might be an effort at diplomacy, but I believe Oskar when he says (tweets):
Once again: I haven’t signed with anyone for next season. I’ve been getting a lot of calls from around Europe lately but haven’t made any decision about next season yet. For the record this is the third team I’m rumored to go to this spring!
On one hand, you wonder why in the world a guy would sign a contract to go to Russia when he’s in the middle of his league’s playoffs. On the other, you wonder why anyone would think to make this up. No offense to Oskar, of course, but he’s sort of a low-profile player, and rumors and lies tend to be about players with higher profiles.
Osala himself is flatly denying this, and there’s no mention of it on the Russian team’s webpage. Then again, there wouldn’t be if it wasn’t official yet.
For what it’s worth, Osala is in the final year of an entry-level deal, and he seems to like it here. He didn’t see any NHL action this season. Last season he played in one game for the Hurricanes. Two seasons ago, he skated in two games for the Caps. In 59 Checkers games this season, Osala put up 42 (13/29) points. He has contributed five (3/2) points in the playoffs this spring.
I hope that this is just a rumor and that he re-signs with the Canes organization. It looks like the Canes big team will be losing at least one and maybe even two of its Finns to free agency. Losing three of the four would be a very sad thing.
Either way, the first thing on Osala’s mind tonight will be winning game three of the Eastern Conference finals against Binghamton.
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David Lee is a restaurant manager with an unused degree in political science. He can be found at Carolina Hurricanes games, Scrabble tournaments and indie-rock shows. Sometimes, all in the same day.