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Russian goalie Ivan Fedotov to join Flyers 2 years after arrest, military service: Source

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Russian goalie Ivan Fedotov to join Flyers 2 years after arrest, military service: Source

By Kevin Kurz, Chris Johnston and Pierre LeBrun

Ivan Fedotov, a Russian goalie who was drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers nearly nine years ago, is likely to finally make his way to North America.

Fedotov is expected to join the Flyers before the end of the season, a league source confirmed to The Athletic. The Flyers drafted Fedotov in the seventh round in 2015. He signed a one-year entry-level deal with the club on May 7, 2022, but his NHL contract won’t begin until he joins the Flyers. So, Fedotov has a valid deal with Philadelphia and would be eligible to play this season, after which he would become a free agent.

Fedotov was prepared to come to the Flyers when he initially signed his contract, but he was then arrested and forced into military service with Russia and was reportedly sent to Severomorsk, in the northern part of the country, near its border with Finland.

There’s high sensitivity here, given visa issues, the challenges getting a player out of Russia and the history with this particular case, which makes a formal announcement by the Flyers on Thursday unlikely, although it could be made in the coming days as the Flyers seek to clarify details with the league.

The NHL has confirmed to The Athletic that there are no issues or roadblocks to Fedotov joining or playing for the Flyers immediately.

Fedotov spent this season with CSKA Moscow in the KHL, defying the IIHF, which ruled that his NHL contract with the Flyers was valid.

In 44 regular-season games, he was 21-22-1 with a 2.37 goals-against average and .914 save percentage. His team was recently eliminated from the playoffs, and then the team announced on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Thursday morning that his two-year contract, which had one year remaining, had been terminated. Fedotov is eager to begin his NHL career, a league source said.

In 2021-22, Fedotov led CSKA Moscow to the Gagarin Cup championship, posting a 14-10-2 record with a 2.00 goals-against average and .919 save percentage in 26 regular season games. He also played in the 2022 Beijing Olympics, helping the Russian team to a silver medal.

Following that season, he figured he was developed enough to attempt to play in the NHL. Instead, he didn’t play hockey of any kind until this season, because he fulfilled his military duties.

“All citizens liable for military service in the country must pay their debt to their homeland,” Fedotov said last July, according to a translation. “We can debate for a long time, but the law is the law. It must be respected. Everyone repays their debt to their homeland to one degree or another.”

The Flyers could potentially use the 27-year-old goalie right away, as the quality of play from their backups behind No. 1 Samuel Ersson — and since Carter Hart’s departure in late January — has been subpar.

Coming out of the All-Star break, Cal Petersen was given an opportunity to start two games. He made 17 saves in a 3-2 win over Seattle on Feb. 10, but then allowed seven goals on 32 shots in a 7-6 loss in Pittsburgh on Feb. 25. Following that game, the team reassigned Petersen to the AHL Lehigh Valley Phantoms, and recalled Felix Sandstrom.

Sandstrom has appeared in five games, posting a 1-2-0 record in three starts, with a 3.87 goals-against average and .823 save percentage. He allowed three goals on just 14 shots in his most recent game, a 4-1 Flyers loss to Florida on March 24.

After that game, when asked about Sandstrom’s play, Flyers coach John Tortorella simply shrugged a couple times before leaving the podium. Later, Tortorella apologized for that reaction, and to Sandstrom himself.

“I made a terrible mistake with you guys the other night,” Tortorella said on Tuesday, before the Flyers’ game in New York. “My body language was wrong. What I should have said to you (is), he’s trying. Sanny’s trying. Things happened this year that put our goaltending situation into a little bit of a state of flux. Sandy did not deserve that from me. … It was wrong.”

Required reading

(Photo of Ivan Fedotov at the 2022 Olympics: Elsa / Getty Images)

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