The futures of free agents Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang in Pittsburgh are up in the air. However, it appears Penguins general manager Ron Hextall will do everything possible to keep the duo in Pittsburgh for years to come.
Speaking with reporters Monday, Hextall said he has had contract negotiations with both players and wants to keep them in the Black and Gold for the rest of their careers.
"We have had discussions very recently, and will continue those. We would like to sign both players," Hextall said, "We'd like to keep Geno as a Pittsburgh Penguin for the rest of his career; Tanger is the same."
Hextall was also asked where the team is with both players on the lengths of their potential new contracts. He responded:
"What I can tell you is they're both great athletes who have been here a long time and are performing at a high level right now," Hextall told reporters. "We'd certainly like to have them in the mix in September."
Hextall's comments come after Malkin told reporters last week that he hopes to remain in Pittsburgh to 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 has spent his entire career with the Penguins, who selected him second overall in the 2004 draft. He has been one of Pittsburgh's best players since breaking onto the scene in 2006, tallying 444 goals and 702 assists for 1,146 points in 981 games.
The 35-year-old has also helped the Penguins win three Stanley Cups and has won numerous awards over his career, including the Ted Lindsay Award, Art Ross Trophy and Hart Memorial Trophy.
Letang has also only played for the Penguins, who selected him in the third round of the 2005 draft. Since making his debut in 2006, Letang has tallied 144 goals and 506 assists in 941 games.
The 35-year-old was also a member of Pittsburgh's Stanley Cup-winning teams and is a two-time All-Star.
It's unclear what kind of deals both players are looking for. However, The Athletic's Rob Rossi reported on 93.7 The Fan that the Penguins offered both players three-year, $15 million deals. The offers "did not sit well" with Sidney Crosby, according to Rossi.
The Pens were set to have nearly $28.8 million in cap space this summer, according to ESPN's Kristen Shilton and Greg Wyshynski, but they already re-signed Bryan Rust to a six-year, $5.125 million this offseason and should have around $24 million available to spend.
In addition to re-signing Malkin and Letang, they also need to re-sign players like Rickard Rakell, Kasperi Kapanen and Danton Heinen.