Article from the August 1st PPG
Pittsburgh Penguins
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.