NHL Rumors: Latest Buzz on Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and More
A little more than three months ago, the Tampa Bay Lightning were celebrating a second consecutive Stanley Cup win. On Tuesday night, they'll begin their quest for a three-peat.
The 2021-22 NHL season gets underway on Tuesday with a pair of opening-night matchups. The Lightning are hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins, while the Seattle Kraken will play their first regular-season game in franchise history as they go on the road to face the Vegas Golden Knights.
Even though pucks will soon be dropping, rumors regarding trades, contracts and more won't stop swirling. Here's some of the latest buzz from around the NHL.
Malkin, Penguins Not Yet Discussing Extension
Evgeni Malkin has been one of the Penguins' leaders throughout his 15-year NHL career, all of which has been spent in Pittsburgh. However, he is still recovering from knee surgery and won't be on the ice when the team opens the season, his last of an eight-year, $76 million contract that he signed in 2013.
Set to potentially hit free agency next summer, Malkin and the Penguins haven't had "any real extension talks," according to a recent report by The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun, who added those discussions may not happen until later in the season. But when they occur, it could lead to the 35-year-old center staying in Pittsburgh.
"Of course the Penguins want Malkin back, but I can’t imagine on a long-term deal that they would regret," LeBrun wrote. "It has to make sense for them as they soon enter a transition phase for the organization."
Malkin has won three Stanley Cups with Pittsburgh, been named an All-Star three times and won the Hart Trophy in the 2011-12 season. He's still a solid player when healthy, but he was limited to 33 games in 2020-21, when he had eight goals and 20 assists for a career-low 28 points.
Latest on Discussions Between Letang, Pittsburgh
Malkin isn't the only key Penguins player who is entering the final year of a contract. Kris Letang, who has also spent all 15 of his NHL seasons in Pittsburgh, will be heading into the final season of an eight-year, $58 million deal.
LeBrun reported that Letang and the Penguins have had "several conversations" during the offseason, but there's "nothing imminent as far as an extension." Like Malkin, Letang may not be negotiating a new deal until he gets closer to hitting the free-agent market in 2022. But that also doesn't mean the 34-year-old defenseman won't return to Pittsburgh.
"The organization greatly values what the veteran blueliner has delivered during his terrific career in Pittsburgh but also is wary I think of giving him too many years on a contract they might regret," LeBrun wrote. "A short-term deal is possible from the team’s perspective but all things being equal, I think Letang himself is willing to be patient here to see how the season plays out."
Letang, a two-time Stanley Cup winner and two-time All-Star, has tallied at least 44 points in six of the past seven seasons. In 2020-21, he had seven goals and 38 assists in 55 games.
Will Chiasson Receive Contract Offer from Vancouver?
About three weeks ago, Alex Chiasson signed a professional tryout contract with the Vancouver Canucks. The 30-year-old forward didn't have a guaranteed spot with the team, but he participated in training camp and played in preseason games.
Although the Canucks open the regular season on Wednesday night with a road matchup against the Edmonton Oilers, it's not yet clear whether they're going to sign Chiasson. On Monday, TSN's Ryan Rishaug tweeted that Chiasson and Vancouver hadn't had any talks on a contract, but that "the door remains open after a solid showing."
Chiasson is a nine-year NHL veteran who has spent time with the Dallas Stars, Ottawa Senators, Calgary Flames, Washington Capitals and Edmonton Oilers. He played for the Oilers the past three seasons, which included 45 games during the 2020-21 campaign in which he tallied nine goals and seven assists.
While Chiasson isn't a top scorer, he could provide depth to Vancouver's offense and be a welcome addition to its attack for 2021-22, should it decide to now sign him to a deal. If the Canucks don't, then perhaps another team will show interest.