Posts Tagged ‘Evgeni Malkin’

The Pittsburgh Penguins may be in jeopardy of losing two franchise icons to unrestricted free agency this offseason.

Evgeni Malkin and the Pens have not been talking regularly after engaging in initial discussions when the club’s season ended May 15, sources told The Athletic’s Josh Yohe. Numerous agents and some people within the organization reportedly believe it’s unlikely Malkin returns.

Meanwhile, the Penguins have offered Kris Letang a three-year contract, but the star defenseman wants a five-year deal with a cap hit north of $8 million per year, Yohe reports.

It was previously reported Malkin is willing to take a pay cut after earning $9.5 million annually on his last contract, but how much remains to be seen. Letang, meanwhile, is seeking a raise after making $7.25 million per year on his previous deal.

Both players are still playing at a high level despite being in their mid-30s. Malkin, who will turn 36 in July, recorded 42 points in 41 games in 2021-22 after missing the first half of the campaign due to offseason knee surgery. Letang, who turned 35 in April, finished seventh in Norris Trophy voting after posting a career-best 68 points.

Malkin, the 2012 Hart Trophy and 2009 Conn Smythe winner, ranks third in franchise history with 1,146 points in 981 games. Letang leads all Penguins defensemen with 650 points in 941 contests. Both players have spent 16 years with the team and have won three Stanley Cup titles.

The Penguins have $23.2 million in projected cap space, per CapFriendly, but Rickard Rakell and Evan Rodrigues are also UFAs, while Kasperi Kapanen and Danton Heinen are RFAs.

One way Pittsburgh can clear cap space is by trading a defenseman, and Marcus PetterssonBrian Dumoulin, and John Marino are all candidates, according to Yohe. Pettersson, who has three years remaining on his deal with a cap hit of $4.025 million, is reportedly the most likely to go. The organization believes 22-year-old Pierre-Olivier Joseph is ready for a full-time NHL role, and he and Pettersson both play the left side.

Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Ron Hextall wants to find a way to have Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang stay with the club for the rest of their careers.

“In a perfect world (Malkin) retires a Penguin,” Hextall said Monday. “And I think Tanger’s the same.”

In a perfect world, anyway.

The NHL in the salary-cap era is hardly that.

Perhaps that’s why, when Hextall was asked what was missing this season from a group that let a 3-1 lead slip a way in a first-round loss to the New York Rangers, he joked “a little more cap space would be great.”

He’s not getting it.

The Penguins have habitually spent up to the cap limit during the hugely successful era led by Malkin, Letang and longtime captain Sidney Crosby. That “spend to win now” approach is not going to change with Fenway Sports Group now signing the checks after buying the club from Ron Burkle and Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux last fall.

The question, however, is how much money the Penguins are willing to offer a pair of 35-year-old franchise icons who are less than two months away from entering free agency for the first time.

Letang hardly appears to have lost a step. The defenseman is coming off a season in which he collected a career-high 68 points while playing a bit more responsibly in his own end. He averaged a staggering 25:47 of ice time and said last week he’d like to play at least five more seasons.

Letang also is finishing a contract that paid him $7.25 million a season. Considering his fitness level and his production, it’s reasonable to think he’d command a bit of a raise on the open market, though Letang said last week his preference would be to find a way to stay in Pittsburgh.

Malkin feels likewise, but his situation is thornier. He said “good players sign good contracts” last week and while he scored 20 goals this season despite missing nearly half of the year while recovering from a torn ACL in his right knee, he was not particularly effective in 5-on-5 situations while commanding $9.5 million. He also turns 36 in July and has missed at least 10 games due to injuries nine times in his last 10 seasons.

Hextall stressed he would not provide details on the nature of the team’s talks with Malkin and Letang, but hinted he’s not concerned about their age.

“They’re both great athletes,” he said. “They both have been here a long time. They’re both performing at a high level right now. We’d certainly like to have them in the mix come September.”

Malkin and Letang’s respective statuses are the two biggest pieces of a very unwieldy puzzle Hextall has to piece together over the summer. Forwards Evan Rodrigues, Brian Boyle, Rickard Rickell and backup goaltender Casey DeSmith are set to become free agents while forwards Danton Heinen and the enigmatic Kasperi Kapanen are restricted free agents.

Hextall did lock down one piece of the puzzle, signing forward Bryan Rust to a six-year deal over the weekend that will keep the versatile two-time Stanley Cup winner in the fold through 2028. Rust, who had 24 goals and 34 assists this season, underwent what Hextall called a minor procedure on one of his knees recently but should be ready well ahead of training camp.

By then Hextall will have clarity on his team’s immediate future. He believes he has it on its immediate past, praising the Penguins for their resiliency during an eventful season that included extended absences by Crosby and Malkin and a COVID-19 outbreak. Pittsburgh managed to extend its playoff streak to 16 straight years, the longest active streak in major North American professional sports.

Yet the Penguins also haven’t made it out of the first round since 2018. That’s not the standard for a team that plays in an arena with five Stanley Cup banners hanging from the rafters.

Six months into FSG’s tenure, there appears to be no hurry to make drastic changes, including in the front office. Hextall, who took over in February 2021 after Jim Rutherford’s abrupt resignation, appears as if he will get a chance to guide the team through at least the early stages of the twilight of Crosby’s Hall of Fame career.

“Everything is good,” Hextall said. “(Fenway Sports Group is) totally committed to winning. … We’ve got some things that we’re looking at in terms of adding to staff and stuff. We’re moving along.”

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby recognizes the 2021-22 Stanley Cup Playoffs could be the last opportunity for his club’s longtime core to chase a championship.

Teammates Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang are set for unrestricted free agency this summer.

“As much as you don’t want to think about it, it’s something that you understand could be a possibility,” Crosby told NHL.com’s Wes Crosby. “I think you just try to enjoy it as much as you can, and try to take it all in because you know it’s something that’s not going to last forever, whether it’s this year or down the road a little bit more.

“You only get to play for so long, so I think just trying to enjoy it and be grateful for the opportunity that we have to do it again.”

Crosby (34 years old), Malkin (35), and Letang (35) have been teammates for the past 16 seasons, qualifying for the playoffs each year and winning the Stanley Cup in 2009, 2016, and 2017. The only campaign Crosby’s Penguins failed to reach the postseason was his rookie year in 2005-06, before Malkin and Letang debuted in the NHL.

Although they’re well into their 30s, the trio is still the engine that drives the Penguins.

2021-22 stats

PLAYERGPPTSATOI
Crosby688420:01
Malkin404018:25
Letang776725:48

Malkin currently carries a $9.5-million average annual value, while Letang earns $7.25 million per season. Both high-profile players could command big-ticket contracts on the open market, but the Penguins could attempt to retain the pair of superstars. Pittsburgh has more than $29 million in projected cap space this offseason, according to CapFriendly.

Crosby is signed through 2024-25 at a yearly cap hit of $8.7 million.

The Penguins currently sit third in the Metropolitan Division with 101 points and one game remaining. The Washington Capitals are hot in pursuit of their archrivals with 100 points of their own and a game in hand.

Pittsburgh Penguins superstar Evgeni Malkin has been suspended four games for cross-checking Nashville Predators blue-liner Mark Borowiecki, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced Monday.

The play occurred in the final seconds of the second period in Sunday’s game. Malkin was assessed a four-minute double-minor for high-sticking and a two-minute minor for slashing.

Borowiecki didn’t return for the third period. Pittsburgh ultimately won the contest in overtime.

Malkin has one prior suspension in his career, coming in 2019 after he swung his stick at then-Philadelphia Flyers forward Michael Raffl.

Toronto Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews was suspended two games for a similar play last month after catching Rasmus Dahlin with a high cross-check.

Losing Malkin is a critical loss for the Penguins as they battle for playoff seeding. The club currently sits third in the Metropolitan Division with 94 points and eight games remaining, but the Washington Capitals are only four points behind with two games in hand. Malkin will miss half of his team’s final regular-season games.

Even as a 35-year-old coming off offseason knee surgery, Evgeni Malkin believes he has plenty left in the tank.

“I want to play maybe like three-to-four years more, and I don’t want to worry every game about my knee,” the Pittsburgh Penguins superstar said Wednesday, according to team reporter Michelle Crechiolo. “Now my knee is like 200% stronger.”

Malkin has yet to play this season. He was a full participant in practice on Wednesday, but he already ruled himself out for Pittsburgh’s next game on Sunday against the San Jose Sharks. He did give himself an optimistic timeline, though.

“I hope next week, maybe 10 days,” he said. “When we have the long west coast trip, maybe one of those games, for sure.”

While returning after such a lengthy absence isn’t easy, Malkin is confident he can return to form based on his past experiences.

“One positive thing is the last time I had a knee injury I came back and had my best year,” Malkin said, referring to his ACL and MCL tear in March 2011. He followed up that injury with a sensational campaign that resulted in 109 points, a Hart Trophy, an Art Ross Trophy, and a Ted Lindsay Award in 2012.

Malkin is in the final season of an eight-year, $76-million contract. However, his looming unrestricted free-agency status doesn’t bother him.

“I’m not thinking about my contract right now, I’m not thinking about money. I’m a pretty rich guy,” he joked.

Malkin has amassed an estimated $116 million in career earnings, per CapFriendly.

The 2009 Conn Smythe Trophy winner recorded 28 points in 33 games last season.

Pittsburgh Penguins veteran Evgeni Malkin will miss at least the first two months of the season as he continues to recover from offseason knee surgery, general manager Ron Hextall announced Thursday, according to NHL.com’s Michelle Crechiolo.

Malkin underwent the procedure in June. He was injured in a collision in a March 16 game against the Boston Bruins. Malkin subsequently missed the final six weeks of the regular season and the first two contests of the Penguins’ first-round matchup against the New York Islanders.

The 35-year-old put up 28 points in 33 games during the 2020-21 season.

The Penguins will begin the 2021-22 season without two of their top forwards. Sidney Crosby is also expected to miss the start of the campaign after undergoing wrist surgery.

With three Stanley Cup championships, six All-Star appearances, and 863 NHL games under his belt (plus a whopping 142 playoff contests), Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang has pretty much seen and done it all.

Well, not quite. There’s still one more thing the 34-year-old covets.

“Four,” Letang said, according to Mike DeFabo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, referring to the Stanley Cup.

“It doesn’t matter how many years I’m going to keep doing this,” he added. “I just want to do it for one reason – that’s to win every year.”

Entering the final year of an eight-year deal that carries an average annual value of $7.25 million, Letang’s feeling confident in a 2021-22 Pittsburgh team that held on to much of its core.

“I feel comfortable saying we have what we need to be successful, whether on the coaching staff or player-wise,” Letang said. “We have the group to do it.”

The right-handed shot has spent his NHL career with “brothers” Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby and “of course” he’d certainly like to keep it that way.

“You hear about those guys who decide to go with another team trying to look for another Cup or bigger salaries,” Letang said. “The thing we built in Pittsburgh with Sid and Geno, I think it’s special. Obviously, there’s always an end to an era. I cannot predict when it’s going to be done.”

For now, things are looking good for the Penguins; Pittsburgh has made the playoffs in 15 straight seasons and finished at the top of the realigned East Division in 2020-21. However, the squad hasn’t advanced past the second round of the postseason since winning the Cup in 2016-17.

“At the end of the day, guys who have been together for 15-20 years – whatever it ends up being – is going to be on the small scale of the longevity of a franchise. You have to think about all the other years and you want to keep winning,” Letang said.

Pittsburgh Penguins star Evgeni Malkin underwent successful surgery on his right knee, the team announced Friday.

He’s expected to be unavailable for training camp in September, and there isn’t currently a definitive timetable for his return.

Malkin suffered the injury after a collision in a contest against the Boston Bruins on March 16. As a result, he missed the final six weeks of the regular season and the first two games of the postseason.

The 34-year-old racked up eight goals and 20 assists in 33 regular-season games this campaign and chipped in five points in the four playoff games he appeared in.

Ron Hextall doesn’t sound like someone who’s ready to hit the reset button.

The Pittsburgh Penguins general manager said Wednesday he believes in the team’s core of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang and is in no hurry to move on to the franchise’s next chapter.

The East Division champions are smarting from a third straight first-round playoff exit — this time a six-game loss to the New York Islanders — but Hextall will spend his first offseason with the team retooling around Crosby, Malkin, and Letang rather than rebuilding.

“We see a future with this core,” Hextall said. “These guys have been here a long time. We had a good year. It certainly didn’t give me pause to think about what we should do with this core. It certainly didn’t give me pause to think about what we should do with this core.”

Hextall added he expects to have all three back next season “for sure.” The same apparently goes for goaltender Tristan Jarry.

Hextall, hired in February after Jim Rutherford’s abrupt resignation, expressed confidence in Jarry despite Jarry’s shaky playoff performance. Jarry’s ill-advised outlet pass in Game 5 led directly to Josh Bailey’s game-winning overtime goal. He followed it up by allowing five goals in Game 6 as Pittsburgh’s season came to an abrupt halt.

“You saw what happened in Game 5, an unfortunate error there. And then Game 6 wasn’t the best. But I don’t think we would have been where we were without Tristan and we all have to remember Tristan is a young player,” he said. “He’s going to learn from this and he’s going to come back better in September.”

As will coach Mike Sullivan. Hextall said he and president of hockey operations Brian Burke are in sync with the two-time Stanley Cup winner. Sullivan emphasizes speed and skill in his approach, something Hextall doesn’t plan to get away from while allowing the Penguins might benefit a bit from a bigger lineup.

“Of course we’d like to add a little bit of size, a little bit of toughness. Yes, it would be nice,” Hextall said. “But there’s not a lot out there. We’ll look at what’s there this summer and we’ll make adjustments. But if we go into next season with this group we’re comfortable.”

That includes focusing on players who can make an immediate impact with Crosby, Malkin, and Letang all in their mid-30s. Hextall stressed the team remains in “win-now” mode heading into 2021-22. Pittsburgh’s streak of 15 consecutive postseason berths is the longest active streak in major North American professional sports.

“We’re comfortable with our team,” Hextall said. “We had a real good regular season and played well in the playoffs. That doesn’t mean we won’t look to get better. You always look to get better. If we can find ways to tweak things and get better, we will.”

Pittsburgh Penguins superstar Evgeni Malkin is back for Monday’s clash with the Philadelphia Flyers after missing the past 23 games due to injury, the team confirmed.

Malkin has been out since March 16, but the surging Penguins have gone 16-5-2 without him.

The three-time Cup winner is producing below his usual standards this season with only 24 points in 29 games. However, he was heating up before his injury, with four goals and eight assists in 10 contests prior to missing time.

Pittsburgh enters Monday’s tilt leading the East Division with a two-point cushion over the Washington Capitals. However, Washington holds a game in hand.