Evgeni Malkin on Future with Penguins: 'I Hope I Stay Here. I Hope I Retire Here'

Erin WalshMay 17, 2022

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 13:  Evgeni Malkin #71 of the Pittsburgh Penguins reacts after scoring a goal in Game Six of the First Round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the New York Rangers at PPG PAINTS Arena on May 13, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Penguins' season came to an end with a 4-3 overtime loss to the New York Rangers in Game 7 of their first-round Stanley Cup playoffs matchup on Sunday, and now the franchise can begin planning for the 2022-23 campaign. 

That planning will include some significant roster decisions, one of which will be whether to re-sign veteran forward Evgeni Malkin, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent. 

With his future in Pittsburgh uncertain, Malkin told reporters Tuesday that he hopes to remain in the Steel City and finish his career with the Penguins. 

"I love this city and I love these fans so much," Malkin said. "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."

Malkin's comments come after The Athletic's Rob Rossi reported on 93.7 The Fan that the team offered the Russian center a three-year, $15 million deal, which "did not sit well" with team captain Sidney Crosby.

That deal would pay him $5 million per year. For comparison, he's coming off a deal that paid him $9.5 million annually, though that contract was signed before the 2014-15 campaign when he was 28 and in his prime.

That said, Malkin has spent his entire career with the Penguins, who selected him second overall in the 2004 NHL draft, so it's not surprising he might be seeking a deal worth more than $5 million per year. 

The 35-year-old has tallied 444 goals and 702 assists for 1,146 points in 981 games over his 16-year career. He also helped the Penguins win three Stanley Cups and won the Calder Trophy as the NHL's best rookie in 2006-07, the 2011-12 Ted Lindsay Award as the league's most outstanding player and the 2011-12 Hart Memorial Trophy as the most valuable player. 

In addition, Malkin is a two-time winner of the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL's leading point-getter, the 2008-09 Conn Smythe honoree as the MVP of the playoffs and is a three-time All-Star. 

The Penguins are projected to have $28,790,658 in cap space this summer, per ESPN's Kristen Shilton and Greg Wyshynski. They need that money to re-sign unrestricted free agents Malkin, Bryan Rust, Rickard Rakell, Evan Rodrigues, Brian Boyle, Kris Letang, Nathan Beaulieu and Casey DeSmith, in addition to restricted free agents Kasperi Kapanen and Danton Heinen.

That said, the team might allow players like Rodrigues, Boyle and Beaulieu to walk in free agency as its priorities likely will be Malkin, Letang, Rust and DeSmith. 

However, with such limited cap space, it'll be difficult for the Penguins to both retain their best players and make some additions on the free-agent market, so it could be a painful offseason.