- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 31, 2008

— The agent for Washington Capitals center Sergei Fedorov said there is interest from the 38-year-old Russian about returning to the team, and he hopes to speak with club officials about a new contract next week.

Fedorov was acquired by the Caps from Columbus at the trade deadline, and he became an important part of the team’s incredible season-ending run to a division title and postseason berth. The six-time All-Star and league MVP in 1994 found new life with Bruce Boudreau’s aggressive approach after nearly two years in a defense-first system with the Blue Jackets.

He will become an unrestricted free agent July 1 if a deal is not reached by then.

“We talked about it when I saw Sergei at the world championships in Quebec before they won [the gold medal],” said Fedorov’s agent, Pat Brisson. “We had a long talk about it, and there’s no doubt he had a good time [in the District]. He had a lot of fun, and it kind of revived his career.

“Right now, he is exploring. He is interested, but it has to make sense. We’ll probably talk with Washington around Friday of next week and explore a possible extension with them.”

Brisson said he has had a brief conversation with Caps assistant general manager Don Fishman about Fedorov, and he will speak with his client about his future in greater detail in the coming days.

While Fedorov is a lock to be a first-ballot member of the Hall of Fame and showed flashes of his dynamic talent with Washington this season, he likely will have to take a pay cut to play in the NHL next season.

“Yeah, he’ll take a pay cut from the [$6.08 million]. We have to see what makes sense for him,” Brisson said. “If we’re in the ballpark financially, then we’ll make it work here. If not, then he may look elsewhere in the NHL and or in Russia.”

Starting next season, the Russian Super League will be replaced by the new Continental Hockey League. It will consist of the 20 teams from the old RSL, plus teams from Belarus, Latvia and Kazakhstan. There have been plenty of rumors about teams in the league preparing big offers for NHL players.

“The new Russian league is very intriguing to him,” Brisson said. “They are very interested in bringing Sergei Fedorov back to Russia.”

When Fedorov joined the Caps in late February, he said he would consider all of his options after the season ended — including retirement and playing in his native Russia. Playing with the youthful Caps — and precocious countrymen Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin — certainly agreed with Fedorov both at the end of the NHL season and when those three skated on a line together at the world championships.

He proved to be a capable replacement for center Michael Nylander as a top-six forward, a huge help in the faceoff circle and one of the team’s top penalty killers. His impact on the team’s young players could be felt in this city for years to come even if he doesn’t return.

Should Fedorov return, it would likely be as the team’s No. 3 center behind Nylander and Nicklas Backstrom. It would be a popular move with the fan base and in the dressing room.

Note — Chris Clark said yesterday he is “almost 99 percent sure” he will be ready for training camp in September. The team’s captain missed all but 18 games last season first with a lacerated ear and then a strained groin tendon.

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