The Russian Government apparently requires that someone must be stuck in the transit zone at the Moscow Airport at all times. Once they allowed Edward Snowden to roam freely within the country, they had to capture another traveler, and unfortunately for the Oilers, that traveler was Anton Belov:
With Belov stranded in Moscow, trying to untangle visa red tape, the defenceman is losing ground at #oilers camp.— Joanne Ireland (@jirelandEJ) September 15, 2013
While Visa problems aren't uncommon in the NHL, it was the latter part of Joanne Ireland's tweet that caught my eye. Belov is "losing ground" because he's missed a couple of days of training camp. But the coaching staff will do their thing when Belov does finally make it out of bureaucratic purgatory:
Eakins said they will do best to bring Belov up to speed when he does arrive. He hasn't even been able to skate while he waits for paperwork— Joanne Ireland (@jirelandEJ) September 15, 2013
Remember, Belov was the best defenseman in the KHL last season and his loss will be tough to deal with for Avangard:
Avangard's defense is unlikely to be as strong as last season (The loss of Belov is particularly heavy blow.)
...so this is not a turnip falling off of the truck and into Rexall Place. This is a defenseman with a high level of talent and 10 years of professional hockey experience. But pressed for more info and Ireland seems to think that a few days of not skating is paramount to Belov keeping up:
Each year a not-insignificant number of players miss training camp time and those players are able to jump into the lineup when they do join the team. Thus far this year, Alex Pietrangelo and Cody Franson both missed time at camp, Pietrangelo is already back and even Franson, when his holdout ends, will return to the lineup when he comes back.
As for not skating for a couple of days, the man has played 466 professional or international games since he was 16 years old. A few days off isn't going to ruin his conditioning, just as a couple of days of training camp isn't going to get him in shape, nor does it preclude him from doing other physical activities, including cardio workouts. If the concern is due to missing out on learning the system, training camp is overrated for this aspect as well, but it makes a good story, so sports writers are never going to tell you how overrated training camp really is.
For a defensemen coming into any new system, the key concern is going to be nomenclature and understanding tendencies of your possible defensive partners. And while he may need to play catch up, if Belov is a better defenseman than Philip Larsen, Nick Schultz, Corey Potter, Denis Grebeshkov, or Andrew Ference he's going to be on the team come opening night and on the ice if he can make an impact.