CSKA Moscow general manager and legendary Detroit Red Wings player Sergei Fedorov was coy Tuesday when asked about reports his KHL team wants to sign Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin in case of an NHL lockout.
The NHL’s collective contract between the league and the NHL Players’ Association is due to expire next month, with no replacement in place, setting the scene for a lockout such as the one that wiped out the 2004-05 season.
Malkin and two fellow Russian NHL stars, Ottawa Senators defenseman Sergei Gonchar and Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, have been training with the CSKA youth team this month to get playing practice, Malkin's agent Gennadi Ushakov told R-Sport on Friday.
"Everything depends on the NHL board," Fedorov said, referring to the lockout. "Regarding the situation with Evgeni Malkin, no comment. The lockout hasn't started yet."
Allowing Malkin to use CSKA facilities is simply a sign of altruism by the team, Fedorov said.
"The fact that he is training with us doesn't mean anything. We just gave him a chance to maintain his fitness."
CSKA won 32 Soviet titles, but has not won a championship since the Soviet Union collapsed.
The team's new owner, Russian state-run oil and gas company Rosneft, has set a target of returning the team to glory and signed a raft of ex-NHL players including Alexander Radulov, Vladimir Zharkov and Janis Sprukts.
Malkin, 25, joined Pittsburgh in September 2006 and made an immediate impact with a goal in each of his first six games. In 2009 Malkin helped the Penguins to the Stanley Cup.
Four-time All-Star Malkin came back from a 15-goal season plagued by a knee injury in 2010-11 to become NHL top-scorer last season with 50 goals and 59 assists.
He contributed 11 goals and eight assists as Russia won the 2012 World championships in May, and was named MVP.