MOSCOW - National Hockey League players Evgeni Malkin and Sergei Gonchar have signed with KHL side Metallurg after the NHL imposed a lockout of its players.

Metallurg, based in the Russian industrial city of Magnitogorsk, said in a statement Sunday that it signed the two Russian players through the end of the 2012-13 season.

The NHL formally locked out its players Sunday after the collective bargaining agreement between the sides expired.

Malkin, a 26-year-old centre with the Pittsburgh Penguins, is the NHL's reigning MVP. Gonchar, 38, is a defenceman with the Ottawa Senators.

Although the club provided no further detail of their contracts, it said that they would comply with KHL regulations on signing NHL players during the lockout. Under these rules, KHL teams can sign a maximum of three NHL players above their limit of 25.

The KHL also sets the ceiling for the salaries of NHL players at a maximum of 65 per cent of what they earn under their NHL deals. Malkin has two years and US$16.5 million remaining on his deal with Pittsburgh. Ottawa's Gonchar has one year and $5.5 million left.

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