The numbers don’t really add up, but they say an awful lot about the global hockey landscape right now.

Petri Kontiola’s new one-year contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs is worth $1.1 million — a tidy sum until you factor in that he paid a little more than $600,000 to orchestrate his exit from the Russian-based KHL. As a result, he’ll essentially be playing for less than the league’s minimum salary of $550,000 next season.

That’s a pretty strong statement about the allure of the NHL and Kontiola is far from the only player making it.

Leo Komarov is on his way back after signing with the Leafs earlier this week and Jori Lehtera ended a game of cat-and-mouse by agreeing to a deal with the St. Louis Blues. Then you have Montreal’s free agent acquisition, Jiri Sekac, and Washington Capitals forward Evgeny Kuznetsov, who joined the team late last season.

Top Tampa Bay Lightning goaltending prospect Andrei Vasilevsky recently secured his KHL release, too.

Those may not be big names to the majority of North American hockey fans, but they were all important players in Russia. Kontiola (Traktor Chelyabinsk), Komarov (Dynamo Moscow) and Lehtera (Sibir Novosibirsk) each led their respective teams in scoring last year while Sekac (Lev Prague) was second and Kuznetsov (Chelyabinsk) fourth despite playing 20 fewer games than his teammates.

They all had important roles and big minutes in the KHL. They all dreamed of going somewhere else.

“I think that players all know that the NHL is the best league; it’s got the best players,” Blues GM Doug Armstrong told Sportsnet earlier this week. “You can make good money in the KHL but if you want to compete against the best you have to be in the NHL.”

The economics of the Russian-based league have been questionable since it launched in 2008 and recent events won’t do anything to quell that notion. Lev Prague fell just one win short of the Gagarin Cup in late April and still ceased operations earlier this week.