Malkin wants to play another 3-4 years, says knee is '200% stronger'
Even as a 35-year-old coming off offseason knee surgery, Evgeni Malkin believes he has plenty left in the tank.
"I want to play maybe like three-to-four years more, and I don’t want to worry every game about my knee," the Pittsburgh Penguins superstar said Wednesday, according to team reporter Michelle Crechiolo. "Now my knee is like 200% stronger."
Malkin has yet to play this season. He was a full participant in practice on Wednesday, but he already ruled himself out for Pittsburgh's next game on Sunday against the San Jose Sharks. He did give himself an optimistic timeline, though.
"I hope next week, maybe 10 days," he said. "When we have the long west coast trip, maybe one of those games, for sure."
While returning after such a lengthy absence isn't easy, Malkin is confident he can return to form based on his past experiences.
"One positive thing is the last time I had a knee injury I came back and had my best year," Malkin said, referring to his ACL and MCL tear in March 2011. He followed up that injury with a sensational campaign that resulted in 109 points, a Hart Trophy, an Art Ross Trophy, and a Ted Lindsay Award in 2012.
Malkin is in the final season of an eight-year, $76-million contract. However, his looming unrestricted free-agency status doesn't bother him.
"I’m not thinking about my contract right now, I'm not thinking about money. I'm a pretty rich guy," he joked.
Malkin has amassed an estimated $116 million in career earnings, per CapFriendly.
The 2009 Conn Smythe Trophy winner recorded 28 points in 33 games last season.