Lokomotive Signs Artyukhin

Contract posturing between Evgeny Artyukhin's camp and the Tampa Bay Lightning has taken another ugly step as Evgeny Artyukhin has signed a contract with Russian Superleague club Yaroslavl Lokomotive. [url=http://www.sport-express.ru/art.shtml?125468]According to the Russian newspaper Sport Express[/url] Artyukhin joined Islanders prospect Sean Bergenheim and NHL veteran Eric Chouinard in inking deals with the team. The contract is likely not binding should Artyukhin reach agreement with the Lightning but does potentially strengthen the young wingers bargaining position as he attempts to get more than the two-way qualifying offer for over $600,000 he received from the Lightning. [b]Update[/b] Erik Erlendsson writes [url=http://www.tboblogs.com/index.php/sports/related/C189/]on the Tampa Tribune blog[/url] that Artyukhin won't be returning, period. My understanding though is that such deals are signed with regularity with Russian clubs as fallback positions to strengthen bargaining postures and aren't binding, so I wouldn't completely shut the door on Artyukhin returning this season. For instance, according to Russianprospects.com prospects Denis Grebeshkov (Islanders) and Pavel Vorobiev (Blackhawks) have signed similar insurance deals in the last month looking to better their lot at the negotiating table. If Artyukhin doesn't return, this gives an opportunity to both Nikita Alexeev and [url=nick-tarnasky]Nick Tarnasky[/url] to make this team out of camp, with an outside chance to [url=darren-reid]Darren Reid[/url] if he shows his skating has improved over the summer.