WINNIPEG - Jonas Andersson is turning his back on the NHL dream.
The Swedish winger informed his Manitoba Moose teammates on Thursday morning that he is leaving them to pursue an opportunity in the Kontinental Hockey League with AK Bars Kazan.
In order to do that, Andersson was placed on NHL waivers by the parent Vancouver Canucks and if he clears by Friday at 11 a.m., he’ll be free to go back to Russia.
Andersson signed a one-year, one-way contract for US$675,000 with the Nashville Predators this past summer that included a “gentleman’s agreement” with general manager David Poile that he wouldn’t be playing in the minors.
Things got a little complicated on that front when Andersson was part of a deal that sent Ryan Parent to the Canucks for defenceman Shane O’Brien and minor-league forward Dan Gendur.
Andersson has blazing speed and managed five goals and 11 points in 20 games with the Moose, but a pair of head injuries have limited his contribution.
And while Andersson did get a call-up and appeared in three games with the Canucks — his first NHL games since appearing in five with the Predators back in 2001-02 — his chances of getting back up there on a full-time basis were slim.
“That’s just the way it goes in hockey,” said Noel, who was asked if he was disappointed to lose Andersson’s speed from the lineup. “Not if his heart isn’t in it. You need your players engaged, you need your players sorting out their own lives. I completely understand. No disrespect.”
While the Moose now have room to add two more veteran players (with 250 games of NHL, AHL or high-level European experience), Noel said there was no rush to fill that void.
“I’m not sure,” said Noel. “We’re not going anywhere. We’re going to be stallions like we were, with Jonas or no Jonas. We’re going to be good.”
Andersson, 29, had seven goals and 20 points in 30 games with Minsk Dynamo of the KHL last season and then suited up for Sweden at the IIHF World Championship.
Moose centre Marco Rosa said there were no hard feelings.
“It’s always a surprise, he was helping us when he was in the lineup,” said Rosa. “You have to do what’s best for your career. If it’s not with this team, you wish him the best wherever he goes.”
Andersson was unavailable for comment.