It's more and more likely that Russian prospect Evgeni Malkin will be signed and skating with other young players next week when the Penguins open rookie camp.
It's expected that Malkin's agents, Pat Brisson and JP Barry, will begin contract negotiations with the Penguins after the holiday weekend. Those negotiations aren't expected to be protracted because the NHL's collective bargaining agreement contains strict guidelines for rookie contracts.
Malkin would seem to be a lock for the maximum rookie compensation of just less than $1 million plus potentially more that twice that in incentive bonuses.
"Everyone knows that Evgeni's goal is to play in the NHL right away. He has been more than ready to play at this level for quite some time," Brisson said by e-mail yesterday.
"In the meantime, JP Barry and myself should enter into negotiations with the Penguins relatively soon in order to make this happen for Evgeni."
Malkin, 20, was the second overall pick in the 2004 NHL draft. He came to the United States last month after several months of uncertainty over his contract with and commitment to Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the Russian Super League. He has been working out in Los Angeles.
Players participating in rookie camp are scheduled to report Thursday and begin skating Friday.
In other Penguins news, the team has entered into a player loan agreement with Edmonton for 2006-07 that allows the Oilers to assign a limited number of players to the Penguins' American Hockey League affiliate in Wilkes-Barre.
Penguins assistant general manager Chuck Fletcher said the Wilkes-Barre roster still will be manned primarily with Penguins prospects, but the Oilers' prospects will help to raise the level of competition and increase the Baby Penguins' overall talent.
Shelly Anderson can be reached at email@example.com or 412-263-1721.