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Former CSKA Moscow goaltender Ivan Fedotov joins the Philadelphia Flyers

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The process needed to extract goalie Ivan Fedotov from both his Russian military and hockey commitments and finally land him in Philadelphia — nine years after he was drafted by the Flyers — remains largely shrouded in Cold War-era type secrecy.

Flyers general manager Danny Briere stuck to silence on Fedotov’s path to Philly as the goalie was introduced Friday to the team.

“We’ll just leave the details out,” Briere said.

What the Flyers are willing to reveal is this: they believe the 27-year-old Fedotov was worth the arduous, complicated wait to get him and that he can make an impact down the stretch as they chase a playoff a berth.

“That’s what gives us confidence he can come and help us,” Briere said at the Flyers’ New Jersey complex. “He’s been through a lot in his career. He’s been through a lot in his personal life. It’s a big part of the reason why we feel comfortable. We’re excited to have him aboard.”

Fedotov was able to join the Flyers nine years after he was picked in the seventh round of the 2015 draft because he had his contract in Russia’s KHL terminated Thursday by CSKA Moscow.

CSKA announced the abrupt termination with one year remaining on it, saying it keeps his KHL rights and “the club thanks Ivan Fedotov and wishes him good luck in (his) career.”

Fedotov speaks limited English but noted several times he was thankful for the Flyers and the opportunity to play in the NHL.

“Very difficult two years,” he said. “Now I’m here and happy to be here and help the team.”

Fedotov is under contract with the Flyers this season after his initial deal, signed in May 2022, was tolled. He attempted to come to North America in July 2022, but instead was taken by authorities to a remote military base in the Arctic Circle for a year of service.

Last summer, after completing that service, Fedotov signed a two-year contract with CSKA. He played for the team this past season, appearing in 49 games through March 8, when it was eliminated in the first round of the KHL’s Gagarin Cup playoffs.

Because Fedotov already had an NHL contract with the Flyers, the International Ice Hockey Federation last summer ruled in their favor and sanctioned him and CSKA.

Fedotov was the starter for the Russians at the 2022 Beijing Olympics when they reached the final and lost to Finland.

“We were always hopeful that he would come,” Briere said. “It’s been a long road. I give him a lot of props to keep pushing and finally have the chance to come. Hopefully it’s a new chapter for him.”

Briere said he did not expect a contract extension to become an issue.

Fedotov practiced Friday and should be available to play almost right away. The Flyers — who lost starting goalie Carter Hart in January after he was charged with sexual assault — have Samuel Ersson as their No. 1 goaltender. To make room for Fedotov on the roster, backup goalie Felix Sandström was sent to the minor leagues.

Expected to be in the midst of a lengthy rebuild, the Flyers are instead one of the surprises of the NHL. Under coach John Tortorella, the Flyers have 82 points and are vying with Detroit and Washington for two of the final spots in the Eastern Conference.

The Flyers host Chicago on Saturday, play Monday and have back-to-back games next Friday and Saturday, giving Fedotov enough opportunity to hit the ice. He would be eligible to play in the postseason.

“The coaching staff will decide if he plays or not,” Briere said.

Fedotov can’t wait to push the thorny geopolitical issues aside and just play hockey.

“I hope it’s a long time together,” he said.

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AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl

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