NHL Notebook: Reports of Malkin's signing premature

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The Penguins shouldn't have any trouble working out a contract with center Evgeni Malkin.

But contrary to reports out of Russia yesterday, they haven't done it yet.

Mostly because they are not allowed to, and won't be until all parties -- the NHL, the International Ice Hockey Federation and the Russian Hockey Federation -- formally sign the transfer agreement that clears the way for Malkin, and other Russian players, to come to North America.

Although owners of teams in the Russian Super League unanimously endorsed the transfer agreement Friday, NHL clubs are barred from signing players like Malkin, the Penguins' No. 1 draft choice in 2004, until the relevant documents are signed.

The Web site for Malkin's Super League club, Metallurg Magnitogorsk, carried a story yesterday saying that Malkin has agreed to a contract with the Penguins.

That is, at least, a bit premature, although there isn't much suspense about the contract Malkin will receive once negotiations begin. It will be for three years -- the NHL's labor deal mandates for those for entry-level players -- and should pay him $984,2000 per season, the maximum allowed by the collective bargaining agreement for players in his draft class.

Malkin, 19, also will be eligible for a signing bonus of up to 10 percent of his salary and some other bonuses, most based on performance.

Canucks hire Vigneault

Alain Vigneault was named new coach of the Vancouver Canucks yesterday. Vigneault, 45, a former Montreal Canadiens coach, was with the Canucks' Manitoba American Hockey League affiliate last season, compiling a 44-24-7 record in his only campaign with the club.

$5 million boost in cap

The NHL salary cap will be about $44 million next season, an increase of about $5 million per team, after league revenues were higher than expected in the first year following the season-long lockout. The minimum payroll will be about $28 million. The exact figures are expected to be announced today.

The cap rise was triggered by a significant and unexpected jump in revenues from a projected $1.8 billion to at least $2.1 billion. The league and the union used the $1.8 billion figure to set its first cap year at $39 million with a floor of $21.5 million.

Avalanche re-sign Sakic

Colorado Avalanche captain Joe Sakic signed a one-year deal yesterday to stay in Colorado. Sakic, who has played all 17 seasons with the Avalanche franchise, turns 37 next month. He said he thought a one-year contract extension was fair to both sides, but he hopes to play at least two more seasons.

No financial terms were disclosed.

Sabres retain Briere

Buffalo Sabres co-captain Daniel Briere received the team's one-year, $1.94 million qualifying offer, but plans to try and negotiate a better deal, his agent said.

The offer prevents Briere from being a free agent this year.



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