The New York Islanders announced today that defenseman Anton Klementyev has been suspended for failure to report for his ECHL assignment to the Idaho Steelheads. Klementyev began the 2011-12 season with the Islanders American Hockey League affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
Well, that's not good.
Yesterday Michael Fornabaio reported that Sound Tigers coach "Brent Thompson said earlier today that Trevor Gillies and Justin DiBenedetto are skating and are making progress. He didn’t anticipate any transactions beyond Reese."
I imagine they wouldn't be tipping off a suspension at any rate, but that makes you wonder how and how quickly this scenario went down, and if there are underlying factors not clear on the surface. Fornabaio is in Portland and working on details. [Update: He reports they did want him to go to ECHL to "play a lot."]
Klementyev, the sleeper 5th-round pick in 2009 who made one emergency NHL debut last year, has been in and out of the Bridgeport lineup, logging 20 games, one assist, a minus-2 and 11 shots on goal. He was also once a strange pawn in the weird Islanders-KHL intrigue over Kirill Petrov.
In September we had him at 25 among Islanders properties under 25, although even tepid vote was clearly from a "your guess is as good as mine who belongs all the way down here" panel. It sounded like Klementyev had made progress last season, but not so much this season.
Klementyev's former junior teammates were among those who died in the tragic Lokomotive plane crash in September, and he is just 21 in a strange land taking a bold risk when he came over. I'm sure a few more details will come out over this scenario, but suffice to say given the difficult real-life year you can imagine a few scenarios where a Russian from Togliatti would resist playing hockey in Idaho.
Update: Player Consent Required for ECHL Loan?
Update: It came up in comments and Twitter, the question of "Wait, can the Isles even assign him to the ECHL?"
The answer is yes they can. And though most players would require player consent to accept the loan, a player on his Entry Level Contract (as CapGeek shows Klementyev still is) can be loaned to the ECHL without his consent:
From 13.11 in the CBA (CBA-ese double-negative alert!):
13.11 No Loans to East Coast Hockey League.
A Player who is not in the Entry Level System may not be Loaned to the East Coast Hockey League without his consent.