Unlike his predecessor, Ron Hextall doesn’t let a lot slip through to the media and fans about the inner workings and happenings of what he is considering doing. Following signing Jeff Carter to a two-year contract (which seems like an indicator on its own about keeping the band together), Hextall shared some thoughts about the other big negotiations he still has on his to-do list.
Hextall: "Geno and Tanger have been here for I think 16 years. I know they've done a lot for the city, and the city has been good to them. So certainly a match that we'd like to continue on with, but obviously the players have choices too."— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) January 27, 2022
“Negotiations have been fine” seems like the biggest takeaway up to this point, or at least as much as the Penguins’ general manager is going to openly give for the time being.
More from Hextall: " We're hoping that our guys are comfortable here, which I believe they are. Hopefully we can we can find a deal that satisfies both sides."— Mike DeFabo (@MikeDeFabo) January 27, 2022
Josh Yohe had more information in a great article “What Jeff Carter’s new contract means for Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and the Penguins” today. Yohe reported, among other things that Malkin is “eager” to stay with the Penguins and even willing to take a reduction off his current $9.5 million cap hit on his next contract.
But, on the other hand, according to Yohe, Letang “believes he is in line for a raise” and as we have heard several times, contract term is a big issue with the soon-to-be 35 year old interested in at least four, if not five years on his next contract.
Yohe also reported the front office would be hesitant to offer Bryan Rust, 30, a six-year contract extension that he may be able to secure through the free agency market.
After the Carter contract extension, the Penguins currently have $29.6 million in salary cap space for next season, according to CapFriendly. In addition to Malkin, Letang and Rust, the team has Zach Aston-Reese, Evan Rodrigues, Chad Ruhwedel and Casey DeSmith approaching unrestricted free agency that will all need to be signed or replaced through free agency, or possibly graduations from the minors leagues. Kasperi Kapanen and Danton Heinen are the notable pending restricted free agents.
It makes for a big puzzle that Hextall and the Pens have to figure out, the one certainty is that there will not be room for all players from this season to return next year, given performance and market performance. This is nothing new, since 2008 the Pens have watched players like Marian Hossa and Ryan Malone skate away in free agency. More will surely be added to that list.
Based on Hextall’s somewhat encouraging comments and Yohe’s reporting, let’s update the official PensBurgh sliding scale for “Gut Feeling of confidence in percent for a deal being made” sliders:
Malkin: 95/5 stay