SUN Hockey Pool

Sutter: Russian makes wrong move

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:39 AM ET

Darryl Sutter is disappointed Andrei Taratukhin has chosen to remain in Russian rather than honour his NHL contract.

At the same time, though, the Calgary Flames GM is using the 'out of sight, out of mind' approach regarding the touted prospect, who had a chance to make the NHL squad this year.

Sutter said the team hasn't been officially informed the forward has signed a deal with Salavat Yulaev in Ufa of the Russian Super League. He added he understands players returning to their homeland but not before completing an entry-level contract.

"During that time, at some point, you hope that player gives himself that opportunity to play in the NHL," Sutter said. "Andrei, quite honestly, needed more than a year. He certainly wasn't ready to play in the NHL yet.

"It's a big adjustment. Andrei made a big adjustment last year, without his family over here, different style of game and different (size of) ice, and he was starting to make progress in terms of how to manage his game, length of shifts, pace of play ... those sorts of things.

"We've invested a lot -- not just money but time personally for him and his family -- and you want him to honour both years ."

Taratukhin, 24, had 60 points with the AHL's Omaha Knights last season.

According to a source, the 2001 second-round draft choice signed a three-year deal worth US$1.4 million per season. His contract with the Flames would have paid him US$750,000 at the NHL level, plus a $150,000 bonus.

Sutter said team representatives will meet with Taratukhin today in Russia.

He's the second Flames prospect in the last few weeks to leave for Russia.

Blueliner Mark Giordano, a restricted free agent, signed a one-year deal with Moscow Dynamo. With the Flames, he would have been seventh or eighth on the depth chart. The team also wanted Giordano to sign a two-way contract.

"I think he made a big mistake," Sutter said of Giordano. "A player finishing an entry-level contract with limited experience in the NHL is not gonna enhance his career by playing overseas. We have his rights for three years, so we'll watch his progress.

"In an entry level contract, if you haven't played 100 games or made a significant impact on an NHL team in year three, you're not a full-fledged (NHLer). You've got to make the team.

"Basically, by the player not agreeing to terms with us, he's saying he didn't think he'd play in the NHL this year."

The Flames head into camp -- rookies report for testing tomorrow -- with 12 forwards on one-way contracts, leaving one or two spots open.

Taratukhin's choice to take himself out of the mix gives a youngster a better chance to start the season in Calgary.

"Every rookie has a chance to make an impact in the main camp and make the hockey club," Sutter said.


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