The penguins had contract discussions with Malkin and Letang 'recently'

The penguins had contract discussions with Malkin and Letang ‘recently’

The Pittsburgh Penguins had contract talks with Chris Letang and Evgeny Malkin “very recently,” general manager Ron Hextal said Monday, as the franchise continues its efforts to ensure that two of its most iconic players in recent memory remain.

Although all sides have committed to working on new deals, there is still a timeline for when Pittsburgh, Malkin or Letang will make a decision.

“We’ve had discussions recently and will continue,” Hextal said. “We’d like to sign both guys. We’d like to keep Gino as a Pittsburgh penguin for the rest of his career; Tanger is the same.”

Malkin and Letang, both free agents, have expressed their desire to return to Pittsburgh, the only team they played for.

Malkin said earlier in May, “I hope to stay here, I hope forever. I’m retiring here. But again, I understand it’s business.”

After playing the final season of an eight-year, $76 million deal he signed with Pittsburgh in 2013, Malkin entered the summer standing at a crossroads late in his career. The 35-year-old has missed a big time due to injuries over the past three seasons, but when he was healthy he showed flashes of world-class skill that have earned him two 100-point seasons and two scoring titles.

Malkin’s next contract, in Pittsburgh or elsewhere, will almost certainly be less than the $9.5 million he earned this season, but details of what he or the Penguins are looking at have not been announced. Earlier in May, Sportsnet’s Elliot Friedman reported that Malik and the Penguins had discussed a three-year deal, but were far apart on a cap number, although Malik insisted money would not be the primary factor in the deal.

“It’s hard. I think I’m still a good player. I think good players sign good contracts,” he said. “If I once said ‘I’m a rich guy,’ it doesn’t mean I deserve a million dollar contract. But I mean, I knew my price and my agent knew my price, and I think the team knew my price. Again, it’s work. But we’ll see what happens. I hope we can sign a good deal.”

For Letang, whose career in Pittsburgh saw him as part of a family trio alongside Malkin and Sidney Crosby win the Stanley Cup, the future is similarly murky.

At the age of 35, he has reasserted his place as the top-tier defensive man in the NHL this season, scoring 10 times and assisting 58 others in 68 games. But injuries played a significant role in his tenure with the penguins, as he suffered concussions and a stroke before he was 30.

While the media was available to him at the end of the season, Letang was cautious when discussing his negotiations with the team, saying that he and Hextall were clear that “it remains between me and the team.” Although nothing has been publicly confirmed by the player or club, Friedman stated in May that one bid was a four-year deal, coming in just under Letang’s current salary of $7.25 million.

“What I can say is that they are both great athletes who have been here for a long time and are performing at a high level now,” Hextal said on Monday. “We would definitely like to put them in the mix in September.”

Amidst the uncertainty over Letang and Malkin, the penguins gained more clarity on the priority of one free agent who were able to cross their list.

Brian Rost, the versatile veteran who was set to become a free agent this summer before agreeing to a six-year deal, underwent minor surgery on his knee. Hextal described the surgery as “just a cleanup,” before saying that Rost would be ready to go to training camp.

“He’s a very good player,” Hextal said. “He’s an important piece for our team. He obviously plays a lot with Sid or Geno. He can move up and down the squad – he can kill penalties and play the power game. That was an important signature for us for sure.”

2022-05-23 20:30:00

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