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Russian club wants millions from Pens for pick Malkin

MOSCOW -- The Pittsburgh Penguins must pay
millions of dollars if they want to have gifted rookie Evgeni
Malkin in their uniform next season, his Russian team says.

Malkin, 19, who plays for Metallurg Magnitogorsk in the
Russian Superleague and is widely regarded as the best player
outside the NHL, has said he wants to join the North American
league.

Malkin was picked second overall in the 2004 draft by the
Penguins behind fellow Russian Alexander Ovechkin, who took the
NHL by storm this season.

Ovechkin scored 52 goals and 106 points to become only the
second player in the league's history to record at least 50
goals and 100 points in his first season.

"I've already made up my mind for next season -- I'll be
leaving for the NHL. I'm 100 percent sure of that," Malkin, who
has a contract with Metallurg through 2008, was quoted as saying
by Sport-Express newspaper.

His move across the Atlantic, however, could be delayed
because Russia remains the only major hockey power not to sign a
transfer agreement with the NHL. Under the agreement, approved
by the International Ice Hockey Federation last year, Metallurg
would have received $900,000 for Malkin.

But Magnitogorsk general director Gennady Velichkin
threatened to go to court if Pittsburgh does not buy out Malkin's
contract.

"We're not asking for [$900,000] compensation from Penguins.
Such a sum is a handout and we're not interested in handouts,"
Velichkin told the Russian media.

"Put simply, they must buy his contract from us."

Asked how much money Metallurg was looking to receive for
Malkin, Velichkin said his transfer would be worth millions of
dollars, similar to what soccer clubs pay for top players.

Velichkin pointed to Ukraine's Dynamo Kiev selling Andriy
Shevchenko to Italian club AC Milan for a record $25 million in
1999. "Dynamo received millions from Milan for Shevchenko, why
can't we get that? But I can't name the exact price for Malkin.
We must wait for Pittsburgh's offer first," he said.

Malkin has already been compared with Mario Lemieux, because of his size, talent and scoring
ability. He was voted top forward at this year's world junior
championship after helping Russia to win a silver medal.