Oilers pursue Mikhnov

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:44 AM ET

The Edmonton Oilers are waiting on the Russians for the services of Alexei Mikhnov.

The Oilers first pick in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft (17th overall) has spent the last six years playing in the Russian Super League.

This fall the Oilers hope to have the six-foot-five, 228-pound left winger in camp.

"We'd like to sign him," said Oilers assistant general manager Scott Howson. "But that's not possible until the Russians sign the IIHF-NHL transfer agreement."

The Russian Hockey Federation had verbally agreed to sign the agreement in June allowing for players under contract to come to the NHL. However, the Russians have still yet to sign it.

Sovetsky Sport in Russia reported Mikhnov signed a two-way contract in North America and is leaving Yaroslavl Lokomotiv, the club he's played for the last two years.

"We can't do anything until that has been resolved," Howson said. "We're told the Russians are going to be part of the agreement again very soon."

Russia did not accept the terms of the international transfer agreement put in place following the signing of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NHL and the players' association.

At dispute was the transfer fees Russian clubs would get for releasing their players.

One of the biggest opponents is Magnitogorsk Metallurg, who currently own the rights to Evgeni Malkin, the Pittsburgh Penguins first pick (second overall) in the 2004 draft.

Mikhnov scored 14 goals and added eight assists in 40 games with Yaroslavl Lokomotiv last season.

He was also a member of the Russian team that competed at this spring's World Championships.

"He's a big, strong player who's improved a lot in the last couple of years," Howson said. "He would have a chance to make our team if we can get him over here. A couple of years ago, that wasn't the case."

A couple of years ago, the Oilers had a chance to see Mikhnov up close and personal. He didn't have any equipment for his visit and needed to borrow a pair of Cory Cross's skates.

At the time the Oilers felt Mikhnov was not ready to play in the NHL.

Things have changed. Now it seems only a matter of time before Mikhnov officially signs.

"It's hard to say when that will happen," Howson said. "He still has a year left on his contract, so until they sign the agreement Alexei can't come."


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