SUN Hockey Pool

Taratukhin may bolt to play in homeland

Calgary Flames Andrei Taratukhin celebrates after scoring in practice. (Jack Cusano/Sun file photo)

Calgary Flames Andrei Taratukhin celebrates after scoring in practice. (Jack Cusano/Sun file photo)

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:46 AM ET

The Calgary Flames may have lost another player to the Russian Super League.

According to Russian newspaper Sport Express, highly touted forward Andrei Taratukhin has apparently signed a three-year contract with Ufa Salavat Yulaev. Taratukhin is also listed on the team's website.

Flames GM Darryl Sutter did not return messages yesterday to shed any light on the situation. Defenceman Mark Giordano, a restricted free agent, signed with Moscow Dynamo last week. The Flames retain Giordano's NHL rights.

Taratukhin, who has one season remaining on his two-way contract with the Flames worth US$750,000, is still on the team's training camp roster. The player drafted in the second round in 2001, if he does come to Calgary for training camp, is expected to push for an NHL roster spot. The 24-year-old had 60 points last season with AHL Omaha.

It is possible his deal in Russia is contingent on him not making the Flames' roster out of training camp.

He told Russian website Sport.ru just over a week ago he intended to push for a spot in Calgary instead of remaining in his homeland despite enticing offers to remain.

"Yes, during the offseason I did have offers from the Super League, for example from Salavat Yulayev. You can consider me stubborn, but I dreamed from childhood to play in the NHL," he said.

"Besides that, have you ever been to Calgary? In that city, the hockey players are the top people, and it seems they are more popular than any politicians. The club's logos are everywhere -- in stores, on the streets, in the newspapers. I would like to play in such an atmosphere. Besides, the quality of hockey there is without a doubt better than in the Super League."

The Flames' prospects will report for fitness testing Thursday, with on-ice sessions for their training camp beginning Friday. Veterans arrive for main camp Sept. 13.


Videos

Photos