The KHL appears ready to dig in their heels over Jiri Hudler.
On Thursday, the Russian league officially registered Hudler's contract with HC Dynamo Moscow. The 25-year-old Czech Republic native signed a two-year, $10 million offer to play in the Kontinental Hockey League on July 8 after reportedly rejecting a five-year deal worth $3 million to remain with the Detroit Red Wings.
The NHL is contesting the contract and has approached both the IIHF and KHL seeking intervention.
According to the NHL, Hudler remains property of the Red Wings after the restricted free agent filed for arbitration earlier in the month. That hearing is scheduled for later in the day in Toronto.
The KHL stated that they registered the contract due to the absence of a transfer agreement between the KHL and NHL, as well as the absence of a valid contract for Hudler with any NHL club.
"This could and should and would be all resolved if there was a transfer agreement. As the KHL continues to prove to be a viable option for players by a competitive and financial standpoint, you can only expect there to be more situations, not less of players looking abroad," KHL spokesman Shawn McBride told The Canadian Press.
The Russian league also stated the move was necessary to confirm that they were ready to start negotiations with the NHL on the status of restricted free agents and on any other aspects of general agreement on transfers of players between the KHL and NHL.
"I think they're trying to justify what is clearly an interference with contract by raising non-analogous situations," deputy NHL commissioner Bill Daly told the Canadian Press.
Hudler enjoyed a breakout season with Detroit last year, setting career highs in goals with 23 and assists with 34. He also helped the Wings capture the Stanley Cup in 2008.
"My hope is that he goes to Russia and he wants to come back and he's a better player," General manager Ken Holland explained to The Canadian Press. "The cap maybe goes up a little bit and we're sitting at a real good situation."