Penguins News & Rumors: Malkin’s Future, Trade Targets & More

Welcome to Pittsburgh Penguins News & Rumors, where we cover all the hot topics about the club and dive into more than just box scores. Get ready for some rapid-fire headlines that will run us through all the noise surrounding Pittsburgh’s beloved Penguins.

Penguins Legend Willing to Take Less Money

Evgeni Malkin does not have a contract for next season and an extension isn’t currently on the table from Penguins management. While the two sides are both interested in working something out, you can’t blame Ron Hextall and Brian Burke for wanting to get a look at Malkin as he returns here soon from offseason knee surgery.

Evgeni Malkin Pittsburgh Penguins
Evgeni Malkin creeping closer to a return for Pittsburgh (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Penguins forward recently spoke with Josh Yohe of The Athletic and mentioned that money will not be a factor because he’s already well off as it is and Malkin’s looking to play three to four more seasons. He’s made $127.2 million so far in his career, no wonder he’s not thinking about money. The two sides have not discussed any specifics and this will certainly be a storyline to watch as the season continues. Malkin is expected to join his teammates for their six-game road trip, which starts late next week.

Related: 5 Penguins Who Probably Won’t Be Back Next Season

Having Malkin in the lineup will allow the team to bump down Jeff Carter to the third-line center role and those two could eventually flip-flop if the Russian center doesn’t get off to a strong start upon his return. Carter has been great again this season, filling in admirably for the Penguins. The 36-year-old has recorded 17 points in 27 games so far in 2021-22.

As for what Malkin’s next contract looks like, there’s still plenty to be determined. His performance throughout the second half of the season and into the postseason will go a long way to what kind of commitment Hextall and Burke are willing to dig their heels into. My prediction, he signs a three-year deal to stay in Pittsburgh at $5 million per season. In his last 88 NHL games played he’s recorded 102 points, so for all the Malkin haters demanding he signs for the league minimum, that’s just not going to happen.

Penguins Will Have Some Options to Make Trades

While the Penguins are looking to be active in some player movement before late March they will be limited because of cap space and resources. Regardless, expect a trade or two out of Pittsburgh. It likely won’t be a blockbuster but it could certainly have an impact on their postseason success.

Teams that are open to making moves before the Mar. 21 will include the Arizona Coyotes, Ottawa Senators, Montreal Canadiens, San Jose Sharks, Buffalo Sabres, and Seattle Kraken.

Phil Kessel Arizona Coyotes
Phil Kessel heading back to Pittsburgh would make major headlines (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Penguins are likely looking to upgrade their wings, adding a depth defenseman that is physical and they will certainly be open to adding a veteran goaltender. While the wish list may not all be filled in one deal, expect to see some smaller deals made and some playoff experienced players coming in. Hextall and Burke both love working with players they are familiar a la the Carter trade last season, so look for another familiar face to them coming in this time around as well.

Penguins Dealing With More Roster Changes

The silver lining in another pandemic pause for the NHL is the fact the Penguins have had a chance to get healthy. Forward Jake Guentzel is over his broken knuckle and has rejoined his teammates. Unfortunately, some news dropped on Friday morning as Carter has entered COVID protocol. Meanwhile forward Evan Rodrigues is now able to re-join his teammates at practice.

Head coach Mike Sullivan will have his work cut out for him to keep juggling the lines. With the team sitting at 17-8-5 on the season and with all the injury issues, the Penguins coach deserves a ton of credit and should be in line for some Jack Adams votes as coach of the year. He doesn’t get enough credit and that needs to change.

Pittsburgh’s next game will be on Sunday against the San Jose Sharks, that of course is if nothing crazy happens with more COVID outbreaks. Malkin won’t be in the lineup but expect to see the Penguins get some healthy bodies back including Guentzel. All coach Sullivan wanted for Christmas was a healthy roster, looks like he’ll have to wait until early 2022 for that to happen.

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