I found this article in the August 31st, 1978 edition of the Vancouver Province, though it is a Canadian Press article (with no author credited) so it was in several newspapers across the country no doubt.
The article said that the Soviet Ice Hockey Federation was preparing to give permission to several of their older stars in the NHL and WHA as early as the 1979-80 season. No names were linked except for Vladimir Shadrin, who supposedly was going to join the Edmonton Oilers.
Now of course the WHA went extinct by then, but the Edmonton Oilers survived and joined the NHL. But Shadrin, who suffered a serious shoulder injury in 1976 and was all but out of the national team picture by this point, never did come to North America.
"We were extremely serious in negotiations and a deal with Shadrin was so close that talks broke off when we started haggling over money," said Oilers vice president Larry Gordon at the time. "At the last minute, the Soviets told us we were one year away from making a deal."
Try about a decade away. The Soviets were famous for stringing along various NHL folk but never allowing their players to leave.
Still, it is interesting to see Gordon seem to think he was close landing Shadrin. Though I would suggest money was always going to be the biggest stumbling block, and if talks broke off when they just started talking dollars I would think the two sides were never really that close at all.