Report: Malkin wants to stay with Penguins

Evgeni Malkin appears willing to stay with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Now it's just a matter of negotiating the price.

On Friday, the Toronto Star reported that numerous teams in a new hockey league in Russia were ready to offer Malkin a huge contract that includes a tax-free multi-year salary of
$12.5 million a season.

Despite the escalated figure -- which would make him the highest-paid professional hockey player in the world -- Malkin has expressed the desire to stay with the team that made the Stanley Cup finals this year.

His agent, J.P. Barry, said he and Penguins general manager Ray Shero have the "framework" of a new deal in place, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

"He wants to stay in Pittsburgh," Barry told the Pittsburgh 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.

"He could make, if he chose to go [to Russia] next year after his contract expired, double or triple what he's going to make here. That's not what he's interested in doing."

Malkin, a Hart Trophy finalist, is scheduled to earn $984,200 in the upcoming season, which is the maximum allowed under the NHL's collective bargaining agreement. The tentative new deal would be for five or six years, at $8.5 million a season -- and it would have to include a no-trade clause, according to the Post-Gazette.

"I don't see any major hurdles" that would prevent an agreement, Barry told the Post-Gazette.

Malkin has been coveted by his homeland for some time. In 2006, Malkin was the subject of controversy between the NHL and Russia's hockey federation, the lingering effects of which are still being felt.

The Penguins had selected Malkin No. 2 overall in the 2004 draft. He continued to play with his hometown team, Metallurg Magnitogorsk, in the Russian Super League until 2006, when he left for the United States.

Metallurg Magnitogorsk filed a lawsuit against Malkin and the Penguins, contending
Malkin was still under contract with the Russian team. Malkin said he had signed the deal under duress; last year, a federal court in New York dismissed the lawsuit.

When reports on Friday came out that the new Russian league, to be known as the Continental League, had started the machinations for luring Malkin back to Russia, the head of the international hockey federation issued a strongly worded statement.

"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," said Rene Fasel, president of the International Ice Hockey Federation. "The NHL has informed the IIHF that this will be the policy of the league during the period without a PTA, and conversely, the IIHF has obligated its member national federations and leagues to do the same in its relations with the NHL.

"We would view any signing, from either side, of a player under a valid contract, who does not have any legally valid out-clause, to be a clear violation of the mutual understanding and existing principle.

"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.

"This would include events like the Olympic Winter Games, the IIHF World Championship or international club competitions like the Champions Hockey League."

As in 2006, the final word may come from Malkin himself.

"He came here for a reason," Shero said in the Post-Gazette. "He came to the National Hockey League to play in Pittsburgh."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.