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My thoughts on the Penguins thoughts from clean out day

May 17, 2022, 2:40 PM ET [140 Comments]
Ryan Wilson
Pittsburgh Penguins Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Today is locker clean out day which means the players are available to talk. There is no shortage of ground to cover so let’s just dive in. First up Evgeni Malkin

If Malkin moves on it appears it will be team driven. I do not think he would turn down a ~7M AAV to stay in Pittsburgh.

Malkin shouldn’t receive criticism for saying this. I believe he would rather stay than go, but if the team is going to move in another direction what do you want him to say? I personally can’t believe it has gotten to this point. I think it would be a travesty to let Malkin walk away from Pittsburgh. He’s still a very good player and I don’t see too many great center options out there that will give you what Malkin will and at the price point he would likely accept from the Penguins. The term doesn’t even look like an issue

Give him 7.1M for three years and be done with it, period, end of story. This is idiotic.

Kris Letang is the most irreplaceable guy on the roster, but they might need to replace him. He is an unrestricted free agent. How will we know how things are going on the contract front? If what Letang says is true, we won’t.

It appears Kris Letang has a similar timeline as Malkin as for how long he wants to play

I see no reason why you can’t give him 8-8.5M for four or five years. His raise will be offset by the discount Malkin would take off of his 9.5M you would probably break even or *gasp* save money on both of their new contracts. We aren’t even talking about eight-year deals here.

What does Sid think about all this?

No surprises here. Sid will play the diplomatic role he always has publicly, but make not mistake I bet he will be pissed off if the Penguins don’t make an honest effort to keep them around.

Sid’s contract has three more years. He knows he will play those for sure. Past that is unsure, but he isn’t ignorant to the timelines Geno and Letang have given.

I’m going to sound like a broken record but there really is no excuse of this trio not to stay together for at least three more years. It doesn’t make sense from a roster building or business standpoint to do something else right now.

Sidney Crosby also refuted the reports he was cleared for Game 6

That was pretty much it from Sid. He has three more years on his deal. There isn’t any drama surrounding his status. He’s not going to rock the boat publicly. Case and point when he was asked about having input on the roster

He said what he needed to say. He has 71 and 58’s back and the front office can clearly interpret his feelings on the matter.

On to the next high-profile free agent for the Penguins, Bryan Rust

Rust also added that his family is his #1 priority and "I think for me, it’s getting to a point where I feel like I’ve gotten what I’ve earned and what I’m worth.".

This is all reasonable. This is his time to cash in. If Rust moves on there are no hard feelings here. If I’m the Penguins I let Rust test the market with the understanding he comes back to the Penguins with a chance to match. I think 6x6 is good enough to get things done. It is just a matter of if the team wants to do it or not. Whatever choice the Penguins make on Bryan Rust it will have an impact on the other major decisions to be made. Including a newly acquired player

I really liked Rakell. I would love to see him back. His skillset complements the top six very well. All that said he needs to be put on the back burner until the team figures out the situations with Malkin, Letang, and Rust. He seems to understand this dynamic and open to waiting to find out how things play out. This is the very likely Bryan Rust insurance. I think there is a much better chance of Rakell coming back than Rust and there’s a path where it makes sense to do it that way. Rakell made 3.9M and I predict he will get somewhere in the 5x5M range on his next deal. He is 29 years old.
Mike Sullivan addressed the Sidney Crosby available to Game 6 speculation

This was a weird one because if he was cleared who was going to hold him back from playing? It seems like a decision for the doctor and then the player to figure out. If Sid was cleared he would have played at home in Game 6.

Jason Zucker talked about his injury, but not what

Zucker’s season was a disappointment for reasons outside of his control. He couldn’t buy a goal or a good bill of health. He has one-year remaining and the Penguins could look to move on from him. There are so many moving parts this season I would solidify the Malkin, Letang, and Rust situations before proceeding on what to do with Zucker.

Kasperi Kapanen spoke

No thanks, dude. Find that swagger somewhere else. You say you loved playing with Geno, but you could have fooled me. Somebody who supposedly has the awareness of how great it is to play alongside a player like Malkin wouldn’t have had to be benched multiple times throughout the season the way he was. Also, would have shown up in the playoffs. I have no use for this player and it is frustrating the team wasted two first round picks on him. At least the first time led to Phil Kessel. His lone contribution to the franchise.

Those are my thoughts on their thoughts. The offseason marches on

Thanks for reading!
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