Report: Pens not speaking regularly with Malkin, 2 years apart in Letang talks
The Pittsburgh Penguins may be in jeopardy of losing two franchise icons to unrestricted free agency this offseason.
Evgeni Malkin and the Pens have not been talking regularly after engaging in initial discussions when the club's season ended May 15, sources told The Athletic's Josh Yohe. Numerous agents and some people within the organization reportedly believe it's unlikely Malkin returns.
Meanwhile, the Penguins have offered Kris Letang a three-year contract, but the star defenseman wants a five-year deal with a cap hit north of $8 million per year, Yohe reports.
It was previously reported Malkin is willing to take a pay cut after earning $9.5 million annually on his last contract, but how much remains to be seen. Letang, meanwhile, is seeking a raise after making $7.25 million per year on his previous deal.
Both players are still playing at a high level despite being in their mid-30s. Malkin, who will turn 36 in July, recorded 42 points in 41 games in 2021-22 after missing the first half of the campaign due to offseason knee surgery. Letang, who turned 35 in April, finished seventh in Norris Trophy voting after posting a career-best 68 points.
Malkin, the 2012 Hart Trophy and 2009 Conn Smythe winner, ranks third in franchise history with 1,146 points in 981 games. Letang leads all Penguins defensemen with 650 points in 941 contests. Both players have spent 16 years with the team and have won three Stanley Cup titles.
The Penguins have $23.2 million in projected cap space, per CapFriendly, but Rickard Rakell and Evan Rodrigues are also UFAs, while Kasperi Kapanen and Danton Heinen are RFAs.
One way Pittsburgh can clear cap space is by trading a defenseman, and Marcus Pettersson, Brian Dumoulin, and John Marino are all candidates, according to Yohe. Pettersson, who has three years remaining on his deal with a cap hit of $4.025 million, is reportedly the most likely to go. The organization believes 22-year-old Pierre-Olivier Joseph is ready for a full-time NHL role, and he and Pettersson both play the left side.
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