Today was locker clean out day for the Penguins to get together one last time as a 2021-22 team. Here are some of the highlights from the day’s proceedings.
-Had a groin issue for a month and a half, felt a pop in double OT where his groin+hip failed and knew that he could no longer continue play.
-Had a “great experience” in Pittsburgh, “really wants” to come back but acknowledged he didn’t know what would happen with all the business the team has to take care of.
-Said a shooting mentality every shift led to his breakout season. He and family love Pittsburgh and would like to return, if possible.
-Acknowledged that he wasn’t 100% but didn’t specify. Wasn’t sure if more surgery this off-season is needed or not.
-Suffered a foot ailment late in the season, knee hyper-extended and had an MCL tear in Game 1 on the disallowed goal from Filip Chytil. Played remainder of the 3OT game.
-Wants to get his “swagger” back and play better next year and that mentally he “got in his own head” as part of reason for his poor season. Felt like he let the team down. Loves Evgeni Malkin and called it an honor to play with him.
-He would “love to return to the team”. Also mentioned “I think for me, it’s getting to a point where I feel like I’ve gotten what I’ve earned and what I’m worth.” Has not yet had extensive contract talks with the Penguins, mentioned (correctly) that he played above the level of his prior contract.
-Was basically hoping and nearly begging the Pens will give him a contract offer that will be acceptable.
Malkin: "I love this city and I love these fans so much. If this team wants new blood and young guys and they say to me to move on, we will see... I believe in my agent and I trust him. I want to stay here. I want to play in the NHL... I hope I stay here. I hope I retire here."— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) May 17, 2022
Evgeni Malkin: "I believe I am still a good player and I believe good players sign good contracts. I hope we sign a good deal. I only can say right now I want to play like 3 or 4 years. Money is not a big deal, but I have family, I have parents, I want a good future for them."— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) May 17, 2022
-Malkin also denied a Russian report that he received an offer from Magnitogorsk (KHL) for next season. Directly said he wants to play in the NHL for 3-4 more seasons, preferably with Pittsburgh but understood for business reasons if they wanted to move on.
-Didn’t comment much about contract negotiation, but said he would give the Penguins opportunity to match any free agent offer to stay. Also mentioned wanting to play, four or five more year, “easily”.
-Close series, never felt the team was outplayed.
-Directly denied rumors that Sidney Crosby was held out of Game 6 by the team, said that Crosby was not cleared by doctors prior to the game.
-Called Crosby, Malkin and Letang, “the standard, for me, of what it means to be a Pittsburgh Penguin”. But also said it was way too premature for him to speculate on how big the changes this summer might be.
-Confirmed what Sullivan said, wasn’t medically cleared to play until Sunday morning (day of Game 7). Was not held out by the team in Game 6.
Crosby on Letang and Malkin: "I think we all feel the same way. We've been fortunate enough to play together for a long time. There's a lot of belief and trust in one another... We understand that it's not something that can happen forever, but hopefully a little bit longer."— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) May 17, 2022
No true bombshells or unexpected developments. It’s very easy to believe Bryan Rust and his desire to stay and hopes for that, but he also spoke like he knew he was a 30-year old with a golden opportunity to cash in a huge offer on the open market after a few big seasons to maximize his earning status (and, frankly, as well he damn should).
Letang didn’t give too much new information, but all signs pointing to him wanting and expecting a long (and likely lucrative) contract still exist. For a player who turned 35 last month, he does not see himself as diminished or aged whatsoever....But will the Pens’ management feel the same?
Malkin spoke extensively for the first time in months (aside from brief media after his 3OT goal). As you can see in the full length of his 8:30 interview, he was typically open and demonstrative about not knowing exactly what the future will hold, but really, really hoping that the Pens are going to be interested in giving him a reasonable contract offer so that he can stay.
NHL free agency starts on July 13th this year, giving eight weeks for Pittsburgh and their players to negotiate now prior to the next phase in figuring out where the players and roster will go for next season and beyond.