Article from the August 1st PPG
Malkin's future with Penguins still clouded
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
By Shelly Anderson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
An NHL-imposed deadline passed yesterday with no immediate word on a response from or action taken by the Russian hockey federation.
That leaves the status of Penguins prospect Evgeni Malkin -- who yesterday turned 20 -- uncertain.
The Russians, who declined to participate in the International Ice Hockey Federation's agreement with the NHL last season, agreed to the terms on June 9 but did not complete the paperwork.
The NHL recently set a deadline of yesterday for the deal to be finalized; otherwise Russian players not already in the NHL would not be allowed to sign with and play for NHL teams in 2006-07.
An NHL spokesman late yesterday said he did not know of any news from Russia or the IIHF, and a Penguins spokesman said the team had not heard anything.
The Penguins drafted Malkin in the first round, second overall, in the June 2004 draft. Playing for Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the Russian Super League, he had 21 goals, 26 assists in 46 games. Malkin, a physical forward, also represented Russia at the world junior, Olympic and world tournaments.
Penguins general manager Ray Shero seemed upbeat last week about the prospect of Malkin being at training camp next month.
"It's really out of our hands," Shero said. "We just get the news as we get it, and until then we keep our fingers crossed.
"But let's put it this way: I'm not going out and getting a centericeman because I'm counting on having Malkin."
Malkin is under contract with Metallurg through 2008, but he has been quoted in Russian publications as saying he wants to play for the Penguins this season.
Under the transfer agreement, international teams receive a flat fee of $200,000 when they lose players to the NHL.
Officials with the Super League have expressed dissatisfaction with the arrangement. Gennady Velichkin, general director of Metallurg, even told Russian reporters that he might sue the Penguins in an attempt to get them to buy Malkin's contract for millions of dollars.
Things seemed to be settled after Hall of Fame goaltender Vladislav Tretiak took over as head of the Russian federation and coaxed Super League official to get on board with the transfer agreement. It was thought then that the Russians officially would sign on by late June.
The NHL has tried to push the Russians to get on board. Commissioner Gary Bettman has threatened to bar NHL players from the 2007 world championships, scheduled for Moscow. Then came the deadline yesterday.
If Russia officially joins the trade agreement in a time frame acceptable to the NHL, negotiating Malkin's contract should not be difficult. He would probably receive a three-year deal worth the maximum $984,200 plus bonuses under the year-old collective bargaining agreement.
From August 3rd's PPG
Malkin likely to play here
Despite lack of NHL-Russia agreement, agent for Malkin expects him to play here this year
Thursday, August 03, 2006
By Shelly Anderson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Bad news for the Penguins coming out of Russia yesterday was overshadowed by Evgeni Malkin's agent saying last night that he expects the prospect to play in the NHL this coming season.
Don Meehan, who represents Malkin, said he is about to begin contract negotiations with the Penguins and expects the 20-year-old center to head to North America soon.
"Our intention will still be to have him come and play with the Penguins this season," Meehan said.
Malkin, the second overall pick in the 2004 NHL draft, spent last season in Russia. It looked as if he might have to stay there when the Russian Federation announced yesterday that it had reversed course and would not sign the European transfer agreement with the International Ice Hockey Federation.
Malkin is under contract with Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the Russian Super League for two more years. Meehan said it is his understanding that Russian labor law allows employees to leave their employers with a certain type of notice. He expects several Russian players who have been drafted by NHL teams to use the same means to leave Russia.
Meehan said that Malkin, who has said he hoped and planned to play for the Penguins this season, is not with Metallurg in its training camp but is working out on his own.
The Penguins, who have been counting on Malkin to complement second-year center Sidney Crosby, could not confirm that Malkin is coming.
"We were hoping to have an agreement between the NHL and the Russian Federation, but seeing there is not going to be an agreement, we are going to talk to Evgeni's agents to see what our options are," Penguins spokesman Tom McMillan said.
The Russian news agency RIA Novosti broke the news that Vladislav Tretiak, head of the Russian Federation, reported his country won't sign the transfer agreement. About eight weeks ago, the Russian Federation agreed in principle to the transfer agreement, but it never formally signed the papers.
It's believed Super League owners were behind the reluctance to sign the agreement, under which NHL teams pay into a pool that provides a $200,000 fee for a player under contract to a European team whose country has signed the agreement.
Tretiak seemed to indicate as much.
"At the talks with the IIHF and the NHL ... we failed to take into full account the interests of Russian clubs, which have players that interest the NHL," Tretiak was quoted as saying by RIA Novosti.
"The RHF therefore decided it was impossible for Russia to join this transfer agreement."
Metallurg general director Gennady Velichkin even threatened to sue the Penguins to force them to buy Malkin's contract for millions of dollars.
The major rift, though, apparently is between Russia and the IIHF.
"We saw great interest on the part of the NHL to cooperate, and its interest in Russian players. The talks were constructive," Tretiak said in the news report.
Malkin, a physical player who got international experience the past eight months playing in the Olympics, the world junior championships and the world championships, had 21 goals, 26 assists in 46 games for Metallurg.
Contract negotiations with the Penguins are expected to be relatively smooth. Malkin most likely would get the maximum under the year-old collective bargaining agreement, a three-year entry-level deal with a $984,200 salary plus a signing bonus of up to 10 percent of his salary and some other bonuses, primarily based on performance.
Agent: Malkin wants to play in NHL now
Posted: 20 hours ago
PITTSBURGH (AP) - Evgeni Malkin still wants to play for the Pittsburgh Penguins as soon as possible, his agent said Monday, even though Malkin's Russian team announced the star forward has renegotiated his contract and plans to stay out of the NHL for another season.
Russian super league team Metallurg Magnitogorsk posted a story Monday on its Web site that Malkin met late into Sunday night with team officials and had reworked a three-year contract into a one-year deal that would allow him to become a free agent in 2007.
However, Malkin's agent, JP Barry, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that Malkin told him he wants to play in the NHL this season. Malkin also has been quoted in Russia as saying he wants to play in Pittsburgh soon.
"His wish is to play in the NHL, and in Pittsburgh," Barry said. "We will continue to talk to him about his future, and we will decide the best course for him at this time."
Malkin's agents, Barry and Pat Brisson, apparently were not with him in Russia during his talks with Metallurg.
Penguins spokesman Tom McMillan said the team was aware of the Russian team's announcement, but had no comment until it could sort out what was going on.
Malkin was the No. 2 pick in the June 2004 draft behind last season's rookie of the year, fellow Russian Alexander Ovechkin, and is widely considered the best player in the world not playing in the NHL. The Penguins have been planning for Malkin to join them next month, especially after the Russian hockey federation said it would sign a transfer agreement allowing its players to move to the NHL for a $200,000 fee that would be split by all the Russian teams.
The other major European hockey federations already follow the transfer agreement. Russia did not do so last season, thus blocking Malkin from joining the Penguins a year ago.
But the Russian federation didn't sign the agreement despite considerable lobbying by new president Vladislav Tretiak, apparently because of considerable pressure from top Russian clubs that want to negotiate much higher transfer fees for star players such as Malkin. Malkin's club is believed to want $2 million or more for Malkin's rights.
Also complicating the issue is Malkin's repeated switching of agents. Until June, he was represented by Barry and Brisson, who also represent Penguins star Sidney Crosby. Malkin then hired Don Meehan, who was giving interviews as Malkin's agent until late last week. However, Malkin rehired Barry and Brisson within the last few days.
Meehan said last week that the 20-year-old Malkin could circumvent his Russian contract and leave to play for the Penguins by simply resigning his job and giving the team a two-week notice that he was leaving. Russian law apparently permits such resignations, even if a contract is in place.
Malkin's new agents are believed to be exploring using the same loophole to get Malkin into the NHL this season.
The Penguins have been counting on getting Malkin to join a mostly youthful team that already includes Crosby, who had 102 points as an 18-year-old rookie, and Jordan Staal, the No. 2 pick in the recent NHL draft. The team showed video of Malkin playing in the Olympics on its scoreboard during late-season home games this year in an effort to boost season ticket sales.
Malkin led Metallurg with 47 points, including 21 goals, in 46 games last season. He also was one of the top players in the Olympics, with two goals and six points for Russia.
Did they ever get anything done with this?
Russia is trying to confuse everyone. Darn it.