In the midst of a huge news day around the National Hockey League, TSN’s Darren Dreger dropped a report on the free agency status of Pittsburgh Penguins star center Evgeni Malkin.
Dreger says that Malkin and the Pens will not come to an agreement before the Wednesday deadline and the veteran Russian has chosen to explore the open market. Malkin, a likely future Hall of Famer and the second overall pick in the 2004 NHL Draft after Alex Ovechkin, will become a free agent for the first time in his career.
Breaking: Sources say Evgeni Malkin has decided to go to the open market on Wednesday. Malkin has never been a free agent before and wants to see what his options are.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) July 11, 2022
The news dropped just days after other reports were released that stated Malkin no longer felt wanted in Pittsburgh. Sidney Crosby even flew to Florida to check on him. How dramatic.
“Sid didn’t go to convince Malkin to sign,” a source told The Athletic’s Rob Rossi. “He wanted to check on his friend. He was worried about how hard this is on Geno with Geno not feeling wanted anymore.”
Malkin is coming off an injury-riddled season that still saw him still post 42 points in 41 games. The Pens recently gave Kris Letang a six-year, $36.6 million deal and rumors are swirling that Malkin wants a similar deal at least in terms of average annual value at a four-year term. It appears the Pens have balked at that idea.
“I believe I am still a good player and I believe good players sign good contracts,” Malkin said back in mid-May. “I hope we sign a good deal. I only can say right now I want to play like three or four years. Money is not a big deal, but I have family, I have parents, I want a good future for them.
“I understand it’s a business,” he continued then. “I love this city, I love these fans so much. But if the team wants young blood and new guys and says ‘you should move on’, I’m fine. I hope I stay here. I hope I retire here.”
should never have come to this pic.twitter.com/dbnwzHud2a
— JFresh (@JFreshHockey) July 11, 2022
Malkin’s possible availability may raise some eyebrows in DC when considering the lengthy recovery process Nicklas Backstrom now faces after getting offseason hip surgery. Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan threw some cold water on that idea though at his pre-draft press conference.
“The salary cap is the salary cap,” MacLellan said. “We have to plan for Nick coming back at some point. What we can do is give opportunities to our young guys… It’s not like we can sign a $9.5 million player.”
Update: The Penguins have re-signed Rickard Rakell to a six-year, $30 million deal, potentially ending a possible Malkin return.
Hearing this will come in at 6 years with a $5M AAV https://t.co/EUZA1eRco5
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) July 12, 2022
The Penguins –– who pinched pennies with a franchise legend and pushed him towards the open market –– sign Rickard Rakell to an incredibly risky deal that very likely ages poorly. pic.twitter.com/9ucG05kDzu
— dom (@domluszczyszyn) July 12, 2022
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