Babchuk signs with Avangard Omsk (UPDATED)
Sunday September 20th 2009, 3:57 am
Photo: Avangard Omsk

Photo: Avangard Omsk

According to the team’s web site, KHL club Avangard Omsk has signed former Carolina Hurricane defenseman Anton Babchuk.  The length and terms of the deal were not announced.

UPDATE 9/21: Sovietsky Sport is reporting that Babchuk’s deal is for one year and will pay him $1.5m.

Babchuk, a restricted free agent with no arbitration rights, refused Carolina’s $1m qualifying offer in June, believing his 16 goals and 35 points had earned him a bigger payday.  But like former junior teammate and fellow Kiev native Nikolai Zherdev, Babchuk and his agent overplayed their hand.

Carolina general manager Jim Rutherford announced his intention to trade the 6′5″, 212-pound blueliner earlier this month, but it appears he was ultimately unable to do so, leaving Babchuk with no option but to return to Omsk, where he played the 2007-2008 season after a similar contract impasse with the Hurricanes.

Rutherford told the Raleigh News & Observer on September 9th that he had one unsatisfactory offer in hand for the disgruntled defenseman, and that he had also been talking to another team that was interested, but was dragging its feet over making a firm offer.

In an interview in mid-July, Babchuk revealed that the New York Rangers were one of a handful of teams which had expressed interest in his services.  It’s possible that the Rangers were the team that was unwilling to make Rutherford a firm offer, choosing to wait until they saw how their young defense prospects fared during the preseason.  With players like Matt Gilroy, Michael Del Zotto, and Bobby Sanguinetti performing at or above expectations, Alexei Semenov holding his own as a try-out, and Brandon Dubinsky’s new two year deal eating up most of what little cap space they had available, Babchuk’s services — and price tag — may have ceased to be of interest to the Rangers.

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