The Pittsburgh Penguins' season ended in disappointment as they were decisively swept out of the Eastern Conference Final by the Boston Bruins, but the positive vibes have returned as superstar center Evgeni Malkin figures to remain in Pittsburgh for many years to come.
According to the Penguins, Malkin agreed to an eight-year, $76 million extension with the team on Thursday. The extension will kick in after his current deal expires at the end of next season.
According to James Mirtle of The Globe and Mail, Malkin's extension now represents the biggest contract under the new collective bargaining agreement, which was ratified this year after roughly half the season was lost due to a lockout.
Malkin's deal is certainly pricey, but he is unquestionably one of the best players in the league when healthy. Geno did miss 17 games with various injuries this season, but he produced when he played, as he racked up 33 points in 31 regular-season games. Malkin also put up 16 points in 15 playoff games for the Pens, although he stalled against the Bruins just as the rest of the team did.
More importantly, Malkin has a long track record of success. The Russian superstar has 560 points in 468 career regular-season games and 97 points in 83 career playoff games, so he is among the most dynamic players in the league regardless of what time of year it is.
Malkin was named the NHL's most valuable player last season as he won the Hart Trophy, he has twice won the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL's leading scorer and won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2009, as he was the playoffs' most valuable player in leading the Penguins to a Stanley Cup triumph.
Malkin told reporters that he was excited to be staying in Pittsburgh and that he believed the team wasn't done winning yet, according to the team's official Twitter feed:
Sidney Crosby will likely always be the face of the franchise as long as he is there, but Malkin actually has a higher cap hit than "Sid the Kid" by $800,000, according to John Buccigross of ESPN.
There isn't likely to be any contention between Malkin and Crosby, though, as they arguably represent the best one-two center punch in hockey and will be key to Pittsburgh's success in the coming years.
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