SUN Hockey Pool

Mikhnov arrives, set for rookie camp

DEREK VAN DIEST, EDMONTON SUN

, Last Updated: 11:26 AM ET

Alexei Mikhnov has landed.

The Edmonton Oilers' first pick - 17th overall - in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft is in town and will be at rookie camp starting Saturday in Leduc.

Mikhnov had been in Chicago at Vladislav Tretiak's conditioning camp prior to arriving in Edmonton two days ago. He's currently staying with Oilers general manager Kevin Lowe.

"We're pleased he's here," said Oilers assistant general manager Scott Howson.

Mikhnov, 24, a native of Kyiv, has played his entire career in Russia. He's currently one of a handful of Russian players locked in a tug-of-war between their former clubs and current NHL teams. Last season, the six-foot-five, 228-pound winger scored 14 goals and added eight assists in 40 games for Yaroslavl Lokomotiv. He also had four goals and two assists in seven games for Russia at the world championships.

The Oilers were waiting on Russia to sign the international transfer agreement with the NHL in order to bring Mikhnov to Edmonton.

However, the Russians refused to sign the agreement, forcing a number of top players to leave clubs in order to come to North America.

Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins is the biggest name involved in the dispute. Malkin vanished for several days last month after leaving his club Mettallurg Magnitogorsk while the team was in Helsinki, Finland. The Penguins' top pick in 2004 resurfaced in Los Angeles a few days later.

Mettallurg has threatened legal action against the Penguins, as has Yaroslavl against the Oilers.

Both Russian teams are looking for compensation for their players.

Mikhnov gave his team two-week notice on June 30th, taking advantage of a loophole in Russian labour laws, and is currently in negotiations with the Oilers.

Howson said the team had to proceed carefully in the event there may be a legal dispute. "We currently do not have an announcement (on a contract agreement) planned," Howson said.


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