A day after announcing contract extensions for head coach Dan Bylsma and staff, the Penguins have agreed to an eight-year contract extension with center Evgeni Malkin worth a total of $76 million. He will have a salary cap hit of $9.5 million, the highest on the team and second highest in the NHL after Washington captain/forward Alex Ovechkin $9,538,462
Malkin still has one year remaining on his current contract with a salary cap hit of $8.7 million.
Appearing in 31 games this past regular season, Malkin, 26, scored 33 points (nine goals, 24 assists).
A first round pick in 2004 (No. 2 overall), Malkin has spent seven seasons with the Penguins. In 458 career regular season games, he has scored 560 points (217 goals, 343 assists). A two-time winner of the Art Ross Trophy (2008-09 and 2011-12), Malkin won the Hart Trophy and Ted Lindsay Trophy as MVP in 2011-12. He also won the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie in 2006-07/
In 83 postseason games, he has scored 97 points. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2009 while helping the franchise win its third Stanley Cup title.
EN Says: The timing of this is hardly a coincidence.
After getting Bylsma's future squared away, the Penguins could move on to Malkin.
The Penguins needed to eliminate any doubt on Bylsma's future in order to get a long-term commitment from Malkin. The Penguins players - and more importantly, their stars - enjoy playing for Bylsma. He allows them to play their brand of hockey and he treats them well off the ice. With Bylsma under contract for the next three years, Malkin was ready to commit to the Penguins' long term.
As we said yesterday, the idea of making major decisions to keep star players happy might seem preposterous but that's simply a reality. The Rangers face a similiar situation with star goaltender Henrik Lundqvist who grew tired of head coach John Tortorella. During his team's exit interviews days after being eliminated from the postseason, Lundqvist was asked if he was ready for sign a long-term extension with the team, Lundqvist was vague and replied, "We'll see."
Days later, Tortorella was fired.
What is really interesting is how this move impacts the future of Kris Letang. Letang is scheduled to became an unrestricted free agent next offseason and is eligible to sign an extension this offseason. With Malkin re-signing for a huge cap hit, is there cap space to re-sign Letang who, as a Norris Trophy finalist, could command top dollar?
The Penguins faced a similiar situation last year when they tried to re-sign Jordan Staal. After Staal rejected their offer of a 10-year extension, due in part for family reasons, he was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes.
Letang seems happy here under Bylsma and assistant coach Todd Reirden who runs the defense. That said, it might be a matter of numbers and not desire which could dictate Letang's future with the Penguins.
(Photo: MalkinJustin K. Aller/Getty Images; Malkin and Bylsma-)