Russian prospect to join Sens

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:58 AM ET

The Senators won't need to pull a cloak and dagger move to get centre Alexei Kaigorodov out of Russia for training camp.

The Senators have come to an agreement which will allow Kaigorodov out of his contract with Metallurg Magnitogorsk -- contrary to the messy escape that Pittsburgh Penguins prospect Evgeni Malkin pulled off earlier this month.

Since there's no agreement with the International Ice Hockey Federation to bring Russian players to the NHL, Senators GM John Muckler had to be creative to get Kaigorodov -- drafted 47th in 2002 -- into camp.

Under terms of the agreement, Kaigorodov, 23, will be allowed to attend the Senators camp, which opens Sept. 14th at Scotiabank Place.

If Kaigorodov makes the Senators, he will sign a rookie deal worth $1.1 million (all figures US). Should he not make the club, Kaigorodov would be expected to play this season in Russia.

Though Metallurg general director Gennady Velichkin was accused of being heavy-handed in trying to keep Malkin from joining the Penguins, Velichkin said in an interview on the club's web site he wouldn't stand in Kaigorodov's way.

"He will go to Ottawa, but if he can't make the team, he will return," said Velichkin. "He was loyal for the organization for all this time and stayed with us when asked, so we decided to meet his wishes."

The Senators already have Kaigorodov pencilled into a spot as their No. 2 centre. Trading Bryan Smolinski to the Chicago Blackhawks last month left an opening.

Kaigorodov has posted strong offensive numbers in Russia the last couple of years -- including the 2004-05 lockout season when he played alongside New Jersey's Patrik Elias. Kaigorodov had nine goals and 23 assists in 50 games last year. It should be noted, he had no goals and just one assist in 11 playoff games.

Senators spokesman Phil Legault said the club was aware of the report, but had no comment.

A BIG ASSIST: Former Bruins great Cam Neely said he was glad to play a role in helping the club sign unrestricted free agent defenceman Zdeno Chara on July 1. As reported by the Sun following the signing, Chara received a call from Neely. "I was happy to help," Neely told the Boston Herald. "I was glad they asked me to make that call (to Chara). I want nothing more than to see the Bruins win hockey games and ultimately a championship. I think the fans deserve that." Neely said he likes the direction the Bruins have taken under new GM Peter Chiarelli and conveyed that message to Chara in the phone call. "It's one thing to say, 'Hey, why don't you come play for the team?' But I had to feel comfortable that they were prepared and willing to show the players that they going to turn things around. Management, certainly in my view, has done that this off-season."


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