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Penguins near deal with Morozov

September 19, 1997

PITTSBURGH (AP) _ The Pittsburgh Penguins have worked out a deal with 1995 first-round draft choice Alexi Morozov, but must first buy out his contract with his Russian team.

``We finally have reason for optimism with the Penguins, but the Russian situation has to be resolved,″ said Scott Norton, Morozov’s agent.

Morozov, a right winger, is considered by some scouts as the best player currently not playing in the NHL. He was scheduled to meet Friday with representatives of his Russian team, Krylja Sovetov.

Under International Ice Hockey Federation rules, the Penguins are obligated to compensate European clubs for any players under contract. In the Penguins’ case, the compensation is negotiable because Morozov did not sign by July 15.

If Morozov cannot negotiate a buyout, his options are to return to his current club or to sign with another North American professional team and avoid the buyout.

Meanwhile, the Penguins returned goaltender Craig Hillier and forwards Boris Protsenko and Martin Sonnenberg to their junior teams.

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