Sherry Bassin, Otters managing partner and general manager, said the Russian Ice Hockey Federation has denied Tkachev a visa that would allow him to join the OHL club.
Bassin said he believes federation officials coerced Tkachev to sign a letter stating he wants to remain in Russia. Bassin also said he was told Tkachev signed a contract with AK Bars Kazan.
The 6-foot, 182-pound center had nine goals and 18 points in 39 games with AK Bars Kazan in Russia last season. He also played alongside Nail Yakupov, Sarnia’s standout forward, on Russia’s Under-18 National Team last season.
Bassin said “we’re fighting it” through the International Ice Hockey Federation, the sport’s worldwide governing body. Yet Bassin is unsure how long it will take to resolve the issue. He said other OHL clubs have needed several months to resolve similar problems in the past.
Russia doesn’t have a transfer agreement with the IIHF.
Meanwhile, Norwegian-born left wing Sondre Olden, the Otters opening CHL first-round pick, won’t arrive at camp until Wednesday because of travel problems caused by Hurricane Irene. His flight to New York City on Sunday was cancelled. So he will fly to Toronto on Tuesday before being picked up by club officials.
Close to signing: Defense prospect Liam Maaskant, an 2010 eighth-round pick, expects to sign with the Otters soon.
“It’s just about done, (just) got to sign the papers,” said Maaskant, 17, a Clinton, Ontario, native who chose not to sign last season since he hadn’t decided between the OHL and the NCAA. But Maaskant chose the OHL after speaking with former Otter and current Colorado Avalanche forward Ryan O’Reilly, a native of nearby Varna, Ontario.
“I came to the final decision that the O was meant for me,” Maaskant said. “I’m ready to take the next step and come to Erie for sure.”
- Victor Fernandes