Malkin told teammates Pens think he’s ‘not good anymore’

Posted: 10/07/2022 in NHL
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It appears there’s serious tension between pending unrestricted free agent Evgeni Malkin and the Pittsburgh Penguins‘ front office.

“Do they want me?” Malkin wrote in a text to The Athletic’s Rob Rossi.

The Pens have already locked up two of their biggest pending UFAs in Bryan Rust and Kris Letang, but Malkin still remains. Malkin reportedly sent congratulatory texts to Letang, Rust, and backup goalie Casey DeSmith after inking their new deals. Each player asked him if his new contract was next.

“They think I’m not good anymore,” Malkin responded to them, according to Rossi.

Negotiations have stalled primarily because of contract term, not average annual value. The Penguins’ latest offer was a three-year, $18-million deal, sources told Rossi, though a four-year pact with the same AAV would work for Malkin.

Pittsburgh gave Letang, 35, a six-year deal. Malkin turns 36 on July 31.

The situation is reportedly so delicate that Sidney Crosby recently paid a visit to Malkin at his home in South Florida.

“Sid didn’t go to convince Malkin to sign,” a source told Rossi. “He wanted to check on his friend. He was worried about how hard this is on Geno with Geno not feeling wanted anymore.”

For his part, Penguins GM Ron Hextall recently said, “I’d like to bring Geno back and I strongly believe Geno wants to come back.”

Malkin is coming off a highly productive campaign despite missing most of the first half while recovering from offseason knee surgery. The 6-foot-3 center recorded 20 goals and 22 assists in 41 games – an 84-point pace over 82 contests.

He ranks third on Pittsburgh’s all-time points list with 1,146 in 981 games, trailing only Crosby and Mario Lemieux. He’s won three Stanley Cups, a Conn Smythe Award, a Hart Trophy, a Ted Lindsay Award, two Art Ross Trophies, and a Calder Trophy during his 16 years with the Penguins.

The Penguins still have $15.3 million in projected cap space, but Rickard Rakell and Evan Rodrigues are also still UFAs, while Kasperi Kapanen and Danton Heinen are RFAs.

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