This news will likely be well received by longtime Penguins fans, fans who are also long time fans of Evgeni "Gino" Malkin.
There have been very loud rumors regarding Malkin's future in Pittsburgh ever since general manager Jim Rutherford would not rule out the possibility of trading Malkin in an interview following the conclusion of the Penguins season. To be clear Rutherford never said he would trade Malkin, but the fact that he didn't slam the door shut on the possibility raised a lot of eyebrows around the National Hockey League.
It should come as no surprise that an elite level player like Malkin would be highly sought after around the league, but it is starting to sound like the Malkin trade talk may have been instigated by the Penguins themselves as a way to send a message to the player. In his recent 31 Thoughts column Sportsnet's National Hockey League insider Elliotte Friedman revealed that this may have indeed been the case, and additionally that the way Malkin handled the situation may have very well squashed any notion of him being traded.
A couple of executives who said there was definitely something to the Evgeni Malkin trade rumours think those will die down. “If their goal was to rattle his cage,” one said, “he got the message.” When Malkin arrived at the world championships, the future Hall-of-Famer told reporter Simon Galkevich, “I had a bad season…Sometimes criticism is justified. This time it’s probably justified.” Malkin also controls his future.
One of the things that makes the notion of trading Malkin such a wild proposition for Rutherford and the Pittsburgh Penguins is the current contract under which he plays under. At $9.5 million per season in average annual value Malkin is frankly a bargain for a star level player and it's hard to imagine that the Penguins could replace him with another player at a lower number. It is true that Malkin's 21 goals this season was his lowest production in the better part of a decade, and his abysmal plus minus rating of -25 on the season also points to the fact that he was a defensive liability at several times during the season.
That being said it now appears that Rutherford, the Penguins, and Malkin himself all believe that he can have a bounce back season.
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