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Sidney Crosby’s reps contact KHL’s Metallurg; Nikolai Kulemin close to joining Malkin

Dmitry Chesnokov
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Will Sidney Crosby play in the KHL during the NHL lockout?

His Pittsburgh Penguins teammate Evgeni Malkin believes it's a possibility, and Crosby himself said he's considering playing overseas if the NHL work stoppage is lengthy.

Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the KHL has signed both Malkin and Sergei Gonchar. According to Gennadi Velichkin, the team's vice president, more players will be on the way — and they've had some early contact with Crosby's representatives.

"We had no doubts that we would sign Malkin and Gonchar," Velichkin told Sovetsky Sport's Pavel Lysenkov.

"It was floating in the air. We were saying for a long time that if Metallurg was to invite someone for the duration of the lockout, then it would only be the players we developed.  There was one defenseman among them, who everyone guessed would be Gonchar.

"Last night we spoke with [Toronto Maple Leafs forward] Nikolai Kulemin's agent. I hope that in the coming days we will see the forward in Magnitogorsk.  Nikolai is in Toronto right now, but if everything comes together, he will leave for Russia on the next flight."

From Lysenkov and SovSport:

This means that the last vacancy for an NHL player will be taken by Kulemin.  You haven't even considered foreign born players?

VELICHKIN: "We were offered different options.  But we are targeting Nikolai.  If the number of NHL players in each team was not limited, we would think about foreign born players.  But we don't have a choice here.

"We held consultations with the team owner Viktor Rashnikov, with the coaching staff.  We took a long time to weigh in all pros and cons. And we came to the decision that it is better for us not to wait for foreign-born players.

"We received calls from Crosby's representatives. They asked us about a hypothetical possibility of signing a contract with Metallurg. We said 'Why not?'  But we never made it to the point of negotiations.

"I think Canadians and Americans won't leave for Russia starting tomorrow.  They will wait.  And to properly register those guys we would need around three weeks.  And this is only to obtain a work permit for a foreign citizen.  Don't forget about immigration services, work visas, Russian laws.

"We thought that we would not see any foreign born players on our team before the November Euro Hockey Tour break.  And if we register them then, they would play five or six games and go back to the NHL when the lockout is over.  It's a doubtful option, you should agree."

Velichkin also confirmed both Gonchar and Malkin will be in the lineup on Thursday vs. Salavat Yulaev.

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