We have all heard that there would be a new Russian Hockey League that would rival the NHL and now it's becoming a reality. The NHL will still be the ultimate hockey league in the world but this is a bit of a concern for me. If the new league is going to succeed at being a competitor of the NHL they will need to have a good business model. In order to do that they will need a lot of money, which they have, and good players. If they try to overpay for elite NHL players I think they will fail miserably but there is a way for them to succeed.
One way that this league could succeed is to try to lure European players that may want to finish their career in Europe like Jaromir Jagr, Mats Sundin, Peter Forsberg and to a lesser extent Teppo Numminen. Another way would be to sign yound European prospects to bigger contracts than they are allowed to receive in the NHL. The second model is the one that worries me.
There has been some talk in Buffalo about the Sabres signing goalie prospect Jonas Enroth, he is the type of player that could be targeted by the new Russian League. If they go after the young guys, it could take a year or two to really get going but eventually they will have an elite level of talent playing in the league and it will be possible for the two leagues to co-exist. There are other top prospects with every organization but Enroth was used as an example.
If you're interested in learning more about the league Eric McErlain has a nice story for the Sporting News and James Mirtle weighs in with his thoughts as well. I have to agree with McErlain's take that the league has a long way to go but they have my attention.