Evgeny Malkin and Sergey Gonchar became the first Russian hockey players to move to the KHL after a lockout was officially announced in the US National Hockey League.
Malkin and Gonchar joined Metallurg Magnitogorsk, inking deals until to play until the end of the 2011/2012 seasons.
“They’ve already put their signatures under the contracts,” Gennady Ushakov, Malkin and Gonchar's agent told R-Sport. “[Metallurg’s vice-president, Gennady Velichkin] will register them in the KHL on Monday. They well may appear on the ice in the team’s next game.”
According to the KHL calendar, Magnitogorsk are scheduled to play Salavat Yulaev in an away game in Ufa on September 20.
Metallurg is the team where Malkin – considered by many to be the best hockey player in the world – began his career, before he joined the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Gonchar, a defender with the Ottawa Senators defender, also played in Magnitogorsk during the previous lockout in 2004/05 season.
Meanwhile, Sport-Express newspaper claims that Detroit Red Wings center forward, Pavel Datsyuk, has reached an agreement with two-time KHL champions, Ak Bars Kazan.
Another big name in the NHL, Ilya Kovalchuk of the New Jersey Devils, is reportedly deciding between joining his native Spartak Moscow and SKA Saint Petersburg.
It was also previously hinted that Aleksandr Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals would join champions Dynamo Moscow, along with other Russian and international hockey stars expected to join the KHL.
The NHL and the Players’ Association couldn’t settle their financial differences before the September 15 deadline.
The lockout was officially announced at midnight on Saturday, and the players are now free to sign up with teams from other leagues.