Malkin eager to join Pens' Crosby

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:41 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- Evgeni Malkin has seen enough of Sidney Crosby to know he wants a piece of that action.

Malkin, the second pick overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2004, said yesterday it is his intention to join the Penguins next season.

"I see myself in the NHL next year in Pittsburgh," Malkin said through an interpreter yesterday. "Crosby is a very exciting player and I have seen a lot of his best moments on television. I think he is a leader on the team who can eventually lead the team to a Stanley Cup, and I am looking forward to playing with him."

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The 6-foot-3, 192-pound Malkin is regarded as the best young player not presently playing in the NHL. Instead, he is playing for Canadian coach Dave King with Magnitogorsk of the Russian Super League and has 36 points in 33 games. Last season, Malkin had 32 points in 52 games with Magnitogorsk and he decided to return to his hometown club. Malkin is the only player at the world junior slated to participate in the Olympics in Turin next month.

Had Malkin been in the NHL this season, he undoubtedly would have been involved in a three-horse race with Crosby and countryman Alexander Ovechkin for the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie.

"I would have liked to have competed with those guys, but I have no regrets (about staying with Magnitogorsk)," Malkin said. "Dave King has given me a lot of ice time and I am improving as a player."

Malkin led Russia to a 4-0 record here in the round-robin and recorded four goals and four assists. With this tournament and the Olympics, Malkin will play a lot of hockey this season on top of his regular club-team duties.

"This was my last chance to play at the world junior level," Malkin said. "There was no way I could have declined the invitation of the national team."


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