Kaigorodov will be at Sens' camp

BRUCE GARRIOCH

, Last Updated: 1:21 PM ET

Alexei Kaigorodov's travel route to Ottawa has been mapped out.

Anton Thun, the agent for the 23-year-old centre, told the Sun yesterday that Kaigorodov will leave his Russian team, Metallurg Magnitogorsk, on Tuesday and is expected to arrive in Ottawa just before training camp opens Sept. 13.

While teammate Evgeni Malkin bolted Magnitogorsk last month in Finland to join the Pittsburgh Penguins, Kaigorodov met with club officials Aug. 22 and informed them he would be leaving the team.

Though his decision wasn't well received by team brass, Kaigorodov acted within his rights. Russian law permits an employee -- even an athlete under contract -- to leave his job by giving two weeks' written notice.

"Alexei is from Magnitogorsk, his father (Pavel) worked at the arena and he wanted to do this the right way. Alexei and his father met with them face-to-face and indicated he wanted to join the Senators," Thun said.

"Obviously, they weren't pleased with the situation with Malkin and there were a lot of discussions when (Kaigorodov) made this decision. They weren't exactly happy about it. But, at the end of the day, (Metallurg officials) made the decision they weren't going to stand in his way."

The Senators drafted Kaigorodov in the second round (No. 47 overall) in 2002. The club has been trying to coax him to come overseas since it selected him, but he wanted to hone his skills in Russia before coming to the NHL.

NO TRANSFER AGREEMENT

Thun said Senators GM John Muckler played no role in Kaigorodov's decision. Actually, the club couldn't because there is no agreement with the International Ice Hockey Federation and the NHL for the transfer of Russian players.

"The Senators had no involvement in this at all because of the lack of an agreement," said Thun. "This was (Kaigorodov's) decision to come to the NHL."

Landing Kaigorodov gives Senators coach Bryan Murray a much-needed boost at centre.

The Senators expect he will challenge for the second-line centre's role in camp, but Kaigorodov's going to get competition from Mike Fisher and Antoine Vermette, who are both coming off strong seasons.

The 6-foot-1, 190-lb. Kaigorodov has good offensive skills. During the 2004-05 lockout, he finished second in the Russian league in scoring with 49 points in 57 games playing mostly on a line with New Jersey's Patrik Elias. By comparison, Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk had 41 points.

"(Kaigorodov) is not coming here to be a checker," said Thun. "You'd have to speak to guys like John Muckler and Bryan Murray about this, but I believe he's got the ability to be a second-line centre in this league."

Thun said Kaigorodov, who had 32 points in 50 games last season, has not signed a contract with the Senators and won't until he's officially finished his commitments with Magnitogorsk. He also denied reports that Kaigorodov will return to Russia if he doesn't make the Senators.

"That is something that has not even been talked about," said Thun.


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