Pens' Malkin not Russian to say goodbye to Pittsburgh

SUN NEWS SERVICES

, Last Updated: 7:22 AM ET

Agent J.P. Barry admits he's received a lucrative "back-channel" offer from Russia for Penguins star Evgeni Malkin to bolt the NHL, but he says the sophomore centre is committed to staying in Pittsburgh.

Malkin will earn about US$3.8 million next season, including bonuses, but is due a raise of close to $9 million -- Sidney Crosby's 2008-09 salary -- once the window for negotiating extensions beyond 2009 opens July 1.

"He could make, in Russia, if he chose to go there next year after his contract expired, double or triple what he could make here," said Barry. "That's not what he's interested in doing. If this was all about money, he would go to Russia because he could make more in Russia than he ever could in the NHL."

Malkin would be just the kind of star the new Continental Hockey League, which is sprouting from the Russian league, would love to snare. There's currently a $21 million cap in that league.

According to a Toronto newspaper, Russian interests were willing to offer Malkin at least $12.5 million tax free per season, making him the highest paid hockey player in the world.

SENATORS PLACE DISGRUNTLED EMERY ON WAIVERS

Ray Emery was placed on waivers yesterday by the Ottawa Senators, who intend to buy out the goalie's contract if he isn't claimed by another team within two days.

Speaking before the NHL draft in Ottawa, Senators general manager Bryan Murray said he had grown tired of the distractions caused by Emery last season and wanted to "clean the slate" after hiring new coach Craig Hartsburg last week to step behind the bench.

After helping the Senators win the Eastern Conference title in 2007, Emery struggled this season and eventually lost the starting job to Martin Gerber in January. He was fined by the team shortly after for arriving late for practice, something he had done several times before.

Emery has two years and US$6.75 million left on his contract. If he goes unclaimed, the Senators have the option to release Emery by buying out one-third of his deal.

LEAFS GIVE HABS PERMISSION TO TALK TO SUNDIN

Is the Mats Sundin era over in Toronto?

The Maple Leafs have given the rival Montreal Canadiens the green light to speak with their captain, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent July 1.

"We have given Montreal the exclusive rights to talk to him up until 12 noon July 1, when he becomes a free agent," Leafs GM Cliff Fletcher said. "I have nothing to say about it at all. That's the only thing I'll say. It's not in my best interest to say anything else, it's not in Montreal's best interest and not in Mats' best interest."

But a deal was far from done, Sundin's agent said.

"At this point, Mats still hasn't decided if he wants to play, let alone where," J.P. Barry of CAA Sports said yesterday. "But obviously the Leafs are trying to facilitate a decision."

PREDATORS PEDDLE GOALIE MASON TO BLUES

The St. Louis Blues acquired goaltender Chris Mason from the Nashville Predators in exchange for a fourth-round pick in yesterday's draft.

The 32-year-old Red Deer native played in a career-high 51 games for the Predators last season, posting a 2.90 goals-against average and a .898 save percentage.


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