Posts Tagged ‘pittsburgh penguins’

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.

The Pittsburgh Penguins want Kris Letang back in the fold beyond next season.

Signing the talented defenseman to a multi-year contract is the club’s top priority, reports The Athletic’s Rob Rossi.

The Penguins’ new owners, Fenway Sports Group, reportedly want to secure both Letang and fellow pending unrestricted free agent Evgeni Malkin for the duration of their careers, seeing their retention as a means to ensure Sidney Crosby retires as a member of the team as well.

Letang established career highs with 58 assists and 68 points this season. The 35-year-old has played his entire 16-year career with the Penguins, playing a pivotal role in two of their three Stanley Cup championships in that span.

The Penguins’ management group has repeatedly expressed its desire to re-sign both Letang and Malkin. The two stars have also stated they’d like to stay. Crosby is under contract through 2024-25. The trio has been together for all of Letang’s 16 seasons, the longest run by three teammates in NHL history.

In January, it was reported Letang was looking for a raise on his next contract. The Montreal-born rearguard will be coming off an eight-year deal carrying a cap hit of $7.25 million.

Pittsburgh has approximately $23 million in cap space. The club’s other pending UFAs include trade-deadline acquisition Rickard Rakell, fellow forward Evan Rodrigues, and backup goaltender Casey DeSmithKasperi Kapanen and Danton Heinen are the team’s pending RFAs.

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.”

One of the top pending unrestricted free-agent forwards won’t be hitting the open market.

The Pittsburgh Penguins and winger Bryan Rust agreed to a six-year contract extension that carries an average annual value of $5.125 million.

“Bryan exemplifies what it means to be a Pittsburgh Penguin,” general manager Ron Hextall said. “Since being drafted by Pittsburgh, he has developed into a versatile player and leader on our team, capable of contributing in any situation. His leadership qualities and experience as a two-time Stanley Cup champion is an important piece of our team.”

Rust recorded a career-high 58 points last season. He’s averaged 35 goals and 40 assists per 82 games over the last three campaigns while primarily riding shotgun with Sidney Crosby.

Pittsburgh drafted Rust in the third round in 2010.

The 30-year-old was one of three big pending UFAs for the Penguins this offseason along with franchise cornerstones Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang.

The Penguins now project to have approximately $24 million in cap space this summer with a roster of only 15 players.

The New York Rangers are off to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs after defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3 in overtime in Sunday’s Game 7. Artemi Panarin came up clutch with the game-winner.

The Rangers simply never quit.

They went down 3-1 in the series but came back in Game 5, 6, and 7 to advance. They’re the first team in Stanley Cup Playoff history to record three straight comeback wins in elimination games within the same series. They trailed 2-1 and 3-2 in Game 7 before Mika Zibanejad scored with less than six minutes left in regulation to force OT.

New York was outshot 45-30 in the contest, but Vezina Trophy favorite Igor Shesterkin was sensational between the pipes, tying Ed Giacomin’s franchise record for 42 saves in a Game 7.

The Rangers now own an all-time record of 8-1 in Game 7s at Madison Square Garden.

New York will take on the Carolina Hurricanes in Round 2. The two sides squared off in the qualifying round of the 2020 postseason, which the Canes swept 3-0.

The New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins are going the distance.

Chris Kreider broke a tie with under two minutes left in the third period of Game 6 on Friday. The Rangers added an empty-netter for a 5-3 victory to set up a winner-take-all finale.

Penguins goaltender Louis Domingue got a piece of Kreider’s harmless-looking, long-range slapper, but the puck trickled by him and into the net.

Kreider was initially credited with the goal before it was changed to Mika Zibanejad‘s. It was ultimately switched back to Kreider’s goal, taking a hat trick away from the Swede.

Nevertheless, Kreider and Zibanejad were two key offensive catalysts for New York. Zibanejad registered four points and Kreider potted two goals. Defenseman Adam Fox was all over the scoresheet with four assists, too.

Igor Shesterkin was stellar between the pipes for the Blueshirts, stopping 31 of 34 shots. He also helped set up Kreider’s first goal with a brilliant saucer pass from his own goal line that found Zibanejad right on the tape at the far blue line.

The Rangers went down 2-0 early before scoring five of the game’s last six goals. They’re just the third team in Stanley Cup Playoffs history to produce consecutive multi-goal comeback wins to stave off elimination, joining the 1987 Philadelphia Flyers and 1950 Detroit Red Wings.

Pittsburgh, meanwhile, was without captain Sidney Crosby, defenseman Brian Dumoulin, and their top two goalies, Tristan Jarry and Casey DeSmith. The Penguins also lost veteran Brian Boyle to a lower-body injury during the contest.

Games 7 goes Sunday at Madison Square Garden.

Unhappy with the way they played in two bad losses on the road that pushed them to the brink of elimination, the New York Rangers bounced back with a needed win to keep their season going.

Filip Chytil scored the tiebreaking goal early in the third period and the New York Rangers beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-3 Wednesday night in Game 5 of their first-round playoff series.

Jacob Trouba and Alexis Lafrenière each had a goal and an assist, and Adam Fox and Ryan Lindgren also scored for the Rangers. Igor Shesterkin, torched for 10 goals over three periods in the previous two games, had 27 saves.

“We were not happy with what happened in Pittsburgh,” Chytil said. “We just didn’t play the whole season (the) way that we played, just (to) lose games like this in Pittsburgh. So we just had a good meeting, good practice yesterday and we just believed today that we’re gonna win and we’re gonna go back to Pittsburgh.”

Jake Guentzel had two goals and Kris Letang also scored for Pittsburgh, which leads the best of seven series 3-2. Evgeni Malkin had two assists and Louis Domingue finished with 29 saves.

Penguins star Sidney Crosby left with about seven minutes remaining in the second period after taking a hard high hit from Trouba in the offensive zone minutes earlier. He did not return.

Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said Crosby had an upper body injury and his status was being evaluated.

Game 6 is Friday in Pittsburgh, and a potential deciding Game 7 would be Sunday back at Madison Square Garden.

“We played a good 60 minutes,” Lafrenière said. “We defended well and played a good all-around game. We did a good job of staying calm. We have to keep it going and win Game 6. We played a really good one when we needed it most.”

The Rangers got their first power play of the night early in the third period and took advantage as Chytil got a pass from Lafrenière in the right circle, turned around and whipped a shot past Domingue to put the Rangers ahead 4-3 at 2:53.

Lindgren sealed the win with an empty-netter with 16 seconds left.

Letang extended the Penguins’ lead to 2-0 at 7:58 of the second as he got a cross-ice pass from Malkin and fired a slap shot past Shesterkin on Pittsburgh’s first shot on goal of the period.

The Rangers then took the lead as they scored on three consecutive shots in a 2:42 span late in the second.

Fox got the Rangers on the scoreboard with 4:49 left as he got the puck inside the blue line, slowly skated up and fired a shot from the top of the right circle past Domingue’s shoulder.

“Once we got that first goal, it was a big boost for our club,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said. “I felt real confident about today. You’ve got to take it one game at a time. We were down three games to one, today I felt real good about our team.”

Lafrenière tied it 90 seconds later as he quickly fired a slap shot in front off a centering pass from Kaapo Kakko.

Trouba put the Rangers ahead another 1:12 later as he skated across the right circle and put a backhander from the middle through Domingue’s skates.

“They pushed, we had a couple of extended D-zone shifts, and we didn’t get it done defensively,” Sullivan said. “We got an experienced group. We just got to keep playing the game. … We didn’t win the wall battles, we didn’t get pucks out, and as a result we had four, five minutes of extended defensive zone play. We simply have to do a better job there.”

The lead lasted just 13 seconds as Guentzel tied it with his second of the night and seventh of the series as he scored off a centering pass from Malkin.

The Rangers outshot the Penguins 11-10 in the first period, limited mostly to shots from the outside.

The Penguins had a 5-on-3 power play early when Chris Kreider was called for slashing and Jacob Trouba for elbowing just 24 seconds into the game. The Rangers held them just two shots on goal during the advantage, with Shesterkin making a nice glove save on Guentzel.

The Penguins took a 1-0 lead with 9 1/2 minutes left as Guentzel got the rebound of his own shot and sent a centering pass from behind the goal line that deflected off Shesterkin’s leg and in. It was his sixth goal of the series.

LINEUP

Lindgren returned to the Rangers’ lineup after missing the previous three games following an upper body injury in Game 1 of this series. The Rangers went with seven defensemen and 11 forwards. Lindgren then left the with an apparent injury early in the second period and headed to the dressing room minutes later. He returned late in the period.

MILESTONES

Kreider played in his 85th career playoff game, tying Don Maloney for the sixth place on the franchise list.

STREAKS

Guentzel scored for the fifth straight game, tying Jaromir Jagr (1996, 2000) and Kevin Stevens (1991) for the fourth-longest streak in one postseason in franchise history. Mario Lemieux (seven twice, six) has the top three. … D Mike Matheson had an assist on Guentzel’s goal, extending his point streak to four games (one goal, five assists). … Fox (three goals, two assists) extended his point streak to five games.

Longtime San Jose Sharks forward Patrick Marleau retired Tuesday after 23 NHL seasons.

The 42-year-old confirmed his decision in The Players’ Tribune. He’s the league’s all-time leader in games played with 1,779. He didn’t suit up in the NHL this season.

Marleau played 20 full campaigns and part of another with the Sharks, who drafted him second overall in 1997.

The Saskatchewan-born skater spent his first 19 seasons with San Jose before playing two with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He then suited up for 58 games with his original club in 2019-20 before the Sharks traded him to the Pittsburgh Penguins at the deadline.

Marleau re-signed with San Jose in October 2020 and broke Gordie Howe’s games played record of 1,767 in April 2021.

“(Retirement is) bittersweet for sure, but I have so much to look forward to,” Marleau wrote in a piece published Tuesday. “Who knows what the world has in store for me. If you would have told that kid on the frozen pond that he would break a games played record held by none other than Gordie Howe, he would have thought you were crazy.

“It was never something I aimed for; it was just me loving this game so much that I never, ever wanted to hang up my skates.”

Marleau is the Sharks’ all-time leader in goals, points, even-strength goals, power-play goals, shorthanded goals, game-winners, and shots on goal.

The Pittsburgh Penguins are one win away from the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs after trouncing the New York Rangers 7-2 in Game 4 on Monday.

The Penguins scored five goals on Vezina Trophy frontrunner Igor Shesterkin in the second period to pull away.

Sidney Crosby had a goal and two assists in the win, bringing his playoff total to nine points.

The Rangers faced the same situation against Pittsburgh in 2014 and ultimately came back to win the series in seven games.

Game 5 goes Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.

Danton Heinen’s first playoff goal in three years just past the midway point of the third period broke a tie to lift the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 7-4 victory over the New York Rangers on Saturday night to take a 2-1 lead in their first-round Eastern Conference series.

Pittsburgh blew a three-goal first-period lead but recovered behind the play of third-string goaltender Louis Domingue and Heinen, who jumped on a loose puck near the New York goal line and flicked a shot by Alexandar Georgiev 11:02 into the third to put the Penguins in front to stay.

Game 4 is Monday night in Pittsburgh.

Evan Rodrigues had two goals and assisted on another for the Penguins, who won despite any member of the top line of Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust not recording a point until Guentzel’s empty-netter with 2:14 to play sealed it. Jeff Carter also scored twice for the Penguins while Brock McGinn started the scoring on a wild night with his first goal of the playoffs.

Domingue made 32 saves and even recorded an assist in his second playoff start. The 30-year-old journeyman put together a flurry of stops early in the third period with the Penguins on the penalty kill to set the stage for Heinen’s heroics.

Kaapo Kakko, Frank Vatrano, Artemi Panarin and Andrew Copp scored for the Rangers. Georgiev finished with 19 saves on 20 shots after taking over for Vezina Trophy-favorite Igor Shesterkin, who was chased after allowing four goals in the first period.

The Penguins sent Shesterkin to the bench with a dazzling first period in which they erupted for four goals — two by Rodrigues — only to promptly squander it with a second-period meltdown culminated by a turnover by defenseman Kris Letang that led directly to Copp’s short-handed tally that tied it at 4.

The Penguins earned a split in New York to start the series by relying on the top line of Crosby, Guentzel and Rust to do most of the heavy lifting. The trio scored five of Pittsburgh’s six goals at Madison Square Garden, the other provided by Evgeni Malkin’s game-winner in triple overtime in the opener.

Still, Penguins coach Mike Sullivan insisted he liked the chances created by the role players on his star-laden roster. The opportunities finally turned into goals in the first period, with Rodrigues regaining the touch that came so easily during his startling first half of the season, when his production helped keep Pittsburgh afloat as it dealt with a rash of injuries and a COVID-19 outbreak.

The teams traded goals in the opening 5 minutes before the Penguins overwhelmed Shesterkin by throwing bodies and pucks at the net with equal abandon. Carter’s deflection from in front off Rodrigues’ shot gave Pittsburgh a 2-1 lead. Rodrigues made it 3-1 when he followed his own slap shot as it smacked off the end boards, pouncing on the rebound to beat Shesterkin. He pushed it to 4-1 when a Brian Boyle check created a turnover that left Rodrigues all alone in the slot.

The first capacity playoff crowd at PPG Paints Arena in three years was in full throat as it lauded Shesterkin — whose 118 combined saves in the first two games was an NHL record — with chants of “IIIIIIIGOOORRR.”

Shesterkin stayed on the bench to start the second period — just the third time he’s played only 20 minutes — and the Rangers responded with a massive push in front of Georgiev to rally.

Vatrano’s second of the playoffs 6:51 into the second pulled New York within two. Panarin’s second just 67 seconds later made it a one-goal game and Copp provided a tying score that seemed inevitable after Kevin Rooney stripped Letang and darted to the net. Domingue made the initial save but Copp knocked in the loose puck as the net was dislodged to draw the Rangers even.

NOTES: The Penguins played without D Brian Dumoulin (lower-body injury) for the second straight game. Forward Rikard Rackell also missed his second straight game after leaving Game 1 following a hit to the head. … Pittsburgh G Tristan Jarry skated on Saturday morning, his first on-ice work since suffering a foot injury in mid-April. … Rangers played without injured F Tyler Motte (upper body), F Barclay Goodrow (lower body) and D Ryan Lindgren (lower body).