The Winnipeg Jets forward has signed an agreement with Dinamo Minsk during the NHL lockout and will depart for Belarus on Saturday, according to agent Craig Oster of Newport Sports.
Kane, a 21-year-old from Vancouver, is the first locked-out NHLer from Canada to sign an agreement with the Russian-based league. He follows a number of notable players to the KHL, including Evgeni Malkin, Alex Ovechkin, Pavel Dastyuk and Pekka Rinne, who will be a teammate in Minsk.
Dinamo Minsk’s athletic director, Igor Matushkin, referred to Kane as a “star” in a release announcing the signing.
Kane is coming off his best NHL season with 30 goals and 57 points in 74 games for the Jets. He signed a $31.5-million, six-year extension just before the lockout came into effect on Sept. 15 — making him Winnipeg’s highest-paid player.
“I’m grateful that the Winnipeg Jets took that leap of faith and make that kind of commitment,” he said afterwards.
Kane jumped into the NHL as a teenager after being drafted fourth overall by the Atlanta Thrashers in 2009. In 213 career games, he’s racked up 63 goals and 126 points.
Kane has also represented Canada at the last three IIHF World Hockey Championships, where his speed proved to be an asset on the larger international ice surface. Dinamo Minsk hopes he’ll be ready to jump into their lineup for Tuesday’s game against Lokomotiv Yaroslavl.
The majority of locked-out Canadian NHLers have signed with Swiss teams so far. Earlier Friday, New York Islanders star John Tavares inked a deal with Bern while Brooks Laich of the Washington Capitals joined Kloten.