Jan Marek spurns Los Angeles
Jan Marek (in white), Metallurg Magnitogorsk
Metallurg Magnitogorsk forward Jan Marek recently turned down a contract offer from the Los Angeles Kings because the Kings would not guarantee him an NHL roster spot, according to a report that was posted today by Sport Express.
Marek's 63 points in 62 games this past season made him the leading scorer for Magnitogorsk, the Russian Super League champions.
The Sport Express report says that Kings GM Dean Lombardi met with the Czech-born Marek in Prague to try to persuade him into coming to North America, but in the end Marek declined the Kings' offer.
The L.A. Daily News' Rich Hammond has a great four-part interview with Dean Lombardi on his Inside The Kings blog, during which Lombardi discusses his trip to Europe. The interview is from a week-and-a-half ago, though, and doesn't cover the end result with Marek.
Here is some of what was Lombardi had to say regarding Jan Marek:
"The front end of the trip was seeing the kids for this year's draft. The first part was in Finland. We were seeing the '89-borns and most of the kids were there, so that was the first week. The second week was to go down and see that Marek kid, because we have to make a decision there, whether to take him or the draft pick." (As part of the Sean Avery deal, the Kings would get a third-round pick in 2008 from the Rangers if they're not able to sign Marek.)
"Now it's either Marek or a pick, so we went to see him play and we met with his agent to get a feel. The hard part is that they can get so much money in Russia, so there's the question of whether he even wants to try it and then there's the question of where he fits. He's a '79-born, so he's not old but we're still working through that process. He played OK. He's a talented guy, but the thing you run into is that he's small, so you have to look at that. So, we'll see how that works out.
"...There's the fact that they make a lot of money over there. They can make $2.5- or $3-million tax-free. That's one of the things with Marek right now. He can make more money over there right now and not have to play 80 games and not have to move across the ocean. It's not a money issue, because you can only pay so much under the cap. So it's not like you're bidding against the Russians. You can only pay so much, and the Russians don't have any limit. So that impacts the players' willingness to come over.
"You used to hear players say, "I want to play in the best league in the world." I'm sure a lot of them meant it, but the other thing is that they could make a lot more money. It's like Alexei Morozov. Does Morozov play over there, and not over here, if he's not making $3 million a year tax free? Probably not. That would never have happened 10 years ago, because the Russians couldn't pay him $3 million. So it does impact it."
The entirety of the interview that Hammond posted is excellent, and is well worth checking out.