from Jared Clinton of The Hockey News,
... And Marchenko’s signing, just like that of Markov, Nesterov, Grigorenko and so on, is simply another part of the plan the Russian Hockey Federation has had since the NHL announced it wouldn’t be sending players to the 2018 Olympics. Following the NHL’s early April declaration, the RHF released a statement saying it would attempt to keep its top talent in Russia and persuade top Russian free agents to play in the KHL, giving them the opportunity to suit up in Pyeongchang — an opportunity they seemingly won’t have in the NHL cut.
Russia hasn’t medalled at the Olympics, let alone stood atop the podium, in more than 15 years. Not since 1998 has Russia won a silver medal. And it’s been more than two decades since a gold medal was awarded to the nation. Russia is planning on changing that in February, though, and it’s starting with bulking up by brining any and all potential national team members home.