The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


June 22, 2008

Despite lack of picks, Penguins making noise

OTTAWA – — The Pittsburgh Penguins had only four picks in the NHL’s two-day draft, which concluded Saturday, but there was still plenty of buzz surrounding the team.

Fresh off a run to the Stanley Cup finals, General Manager Ray Shero and Penguins face decisions on which players to resign. They’re attempting to retain Marian Hossa, who’s eligible to become a free agent, and are also likely to lose center Ryan Malone, while hoping to sign forward Evgeni Malkin and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury to contract extensions this summer.

There was also news surrounding league MVP finalist Malkin. The International Ice Hockey Federation took the unusual step of issuing a statement addressing a story in the Toronto Star on Friday that said Malkin would be offered at least $12.5 million per season, tax-free, to return to Russia to play.

“Although there will be no imminent player transfer agreement between the IIHF and the NHL, all involved parties are in principal agreement to honor each other’s contracts,” IIHF President René Fasel said.

Fasel said that any signing of a player under contract without an out-clause could bring severe repercussions.

“It would potentially be punishable with suspended national team eligibility and suspension from all competition or activity organized by the IIHF or any IIHF member national association,” Fasel said. “This would include events like the Olympic Winter Games, the IIHF World Championship or international club competitions like the Champions Hockey League.

“Given this, we are confident that the report is not substantiated,” he said.

Malkin’s agent, J.P. Barry, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that his client was not planning to return to Russia.

“He wants to stay in Pittsburgh,” Barry said in Saturday’s Post-Gazette. “He wants them to keep as many players as they can, so we’re working on a term and a structure that will hopefully do that.”

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