After suffering an elbow injury in March, Evgeni Malkin returned a week early (in time for Game 2 of the Penguins first round playoff matchup) and gutted out a great spring scoring 18 points in 23 games. Pens general manager Jim Rutherford announced yesterday that Malkin would have an MRI today to reveal the current status of the elbow.
"This is a guy that had a real serious injury that played before most guys would've played and made a contribution to the team," Rutherford said. "It shows his character. It was pretty impressive."
The MRI could reveal, with a 50-50 chance according to Rutherford, that Malkin will require what's known as Tommy John surgery on his elbow to repair ligament damage.
"I do think that a surgery like that, it does take a little bit longer to heal," Rutherford said.
Tommy John surgery is most famous in the sports world for happening to pitchers in baseball, who are usually knocked out of commission for a year or longer after the procedure. However, for hockey, the recovery time would be quicker, though no one is really talking specifics at this time.
"I need to be smart," Malkin said to DK Sports ($). "Short summer. I’m not young anymore. I have to work hard. We’ll see. I don’t know what’s going on right now."
What the MRI reveals could shape how the Penguins have to start the 2016-17 regular season.
There's also reports everywhere the Calgary is interested in Marc-Andre Fleury. About 10-12 teams that don't have franchise goalies ought to be interested in the Penguins regular season MVP.
However, the bigger question should be -- is Fleury interested in Calgary? Fleury can block trades to 12 teams as a part of his limited no-trade clause in his contract. Perhaps Fleury sees the writing on the wall and knows it's time to move on, and the competitor in him will surely be happy to get to a new team where he would be "the guy".
The limited NTC gives Fleury a say, though. If he doesn't want to relocate his young family all the way across the continent (and away from extended family), he doesn't have to. If he has blocked some of the lesser lights around the league to avoid going to a basement dweller, he wouldn't have to go to those options as well.
As we mentioned yesterday, the Fleury saga is likely to play out for a while. The all-too-honest Jim Rutherford said yesterday that he had not talked to Fleury about how he's feeling and what he wants going forward. Some observers, like Josh Yohe, think that Pittsburgh would prefer carrying the depth of Fleury + Matt Murray over trading away Fleury. But this would change if Fleury's camp requested a move.
"It’s a great situation that we have great goalies," Rutherford said. "But it could be a tough situation moving forward. I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself. Let’s see how the expansion thing goes. Let’s see how Marc-Andre feels moving forward."
This story, of course will be the biggest of the Pens summer. As of now, it seems like Fleury is ready to move on, but nothing is official yet and it remains unknown to what extent he wants to move on.
He might be so ready to go that he'll completely waive his NTC and go to whatever team wants him the most. Or he might have emotions blow over and want to come back to the Pens, the only team he's ever known. Or maybe somewhere in between and Pittsburgh has to work around his NTC and trade him somewhere in order to protect themselves for expansion next year. There are many scenarios that could play out, but for now nothing but speculation.