Cranberry, Pennsylvania – By keeping their core intact, the Pittsburgh Penguins are sending the message they think is with them Sidney CrosbyAnd Evgeny Malkin and Chris Letang They can aspire to another Stanley Cup conquest.
“They are outstanding players, players of a generation,” general manager Ron Hextoll said on Wednesday. They are not only good hockey players. They are generation to generation players who make others better. So we still feel like one of the best teams in the league. »
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Malkin still didn’t have a contract in his pocket as of late Tuesday night. It was the last of the essential items to be brought back to his homeland.
Crosby has three seasons left on a 12-year contract worth $104.4 million (annual average of $8.7 million) signed on June 28, 2012. Letang agreed to a new six-year contract worth $36.6 million (annual average of $6.1 million) Million) on Thursday.
Malkin got back to the negotiating table and eventually opted to go back to basics by signing a four-year contract for 24.4 million (annual average of $6.1 million).
He’s a core who won the Stanley Cup three times (2009, 2016, 2017) and helped the Penguins reach the playoffs in 16 consecutive seasons, and is the longest active streak in the NHL.
It is a core that can still achieve great things according to Hextall.
“To have three guys who have played together for a long time, but above all three very talented guys is very special,” said Hextal, who has been playing in the role since February 9, 2021. The last miles of their career. »
Crosby played the most 1,108 games in the history of the Penguins, ahead of Malkin (981). They are second and third in points (Krosby, 1409; Malkin, 1146), goals (Krosby, 517; Malkin, 444) and assists (Krosby, 892; Malkin, 702), behind Mario Lemio in each category (1723 points; 690) goals, 1,033 assists).
Litang leads the defense with 650 points, 144 goals, 506 assists and played 941 games.
But Pittsburgh has lost in the first round of the playoffs in every season since 2018. Crosby, the youngest of the three starting members, turns 35 on August 7. Malkin will be 36 on July 31, and Letang turn 35 on April 24.
The Penguins were eliminated by the New Yorkers in six games in 2021. Then last spring they smashed their 3-1 lead in the series against the New York Rangers before losing 4-3 in overtime in Game 7.
These two qualifying setbacks still convince Hextall to keep their core intact.
“The past two years have shown us that this group still has good hockey to offer, and that they can still achieve great things,” said the general manager. When you look at the series against The Islanders two years ago and the series against the Rangers this year, we could have won either series. Personally, I think we should have won them. »
After recovering from wrist surgery, Crosby earned 84 points (31 goals, 53 assists) in 69 games last season. Malkin underwent knee surgery and was limited to 41 games, but still has 42 points (20 goals, 21 assists). Letang had the best offensive season with 68 points (10 goals and 58 assists) in 78 matches.
“It makes us believe we can be competitive and achieve special things,” Hextal said.
It was almost the end of an era when owners were considering the idea of testing the free agent market. Hextal admitted he wasn’t sure what convinced Malkin to stay in Pittsburgh, but he’s grateful for whatever reason.
“Signing the ‘Geno’ contract couldn’t make us any happier,” Hextal said. It is an agreement that works for both parties. We couldn’t be happier knowing he’d be able to finish his career with the Penguins. »