Red Wings rookie defenseman Dmitri Bykov has signed with a Russian team in an attempt to gain leverage in negotiations with Detroit.
Bykov, a restricted free agent, can still sign with the Red Wings for next season. However, now Detroit must sign him before July 15, the deadline for NHL teams to sign players with overseas contracts, for him to be available for the 2003-2004 campaign.
"He's told me that it's viewed as an insurance policy," Bykov's agent Don Meehan said. "His heart is in Detroit. His every intention is to re-sign with Detroit."
Bykov signed with Ak Bars Kazan, his former team.
Meehan's partner, Pat Morris, told WDFN-AM that the deal was for $1 million tax-free across two seasons. It may be difficult for the Wings to match that offer. Bykov was paid $605,000 in his rookie campaign.
Bykov, 26, was the eighth-round pick of the Red Wings in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. After immigration problems caused him to miss training camp in 2002, he joined the Red Wings and played well enough to make the roster for the year.