Malkin Planning to Test Free-Agent Market

Evgeni Malkin’s fabled career with the Pittsburgh Penguins might be over.

Malkin, who is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent Wednesday, plans to test the market then, as talks for a new deal with the Penguins apparently have reached a dead end.

Malkin’s intentions were confirmed by parties on both sides of the negotiations with the Penguins.

Malkin, who has insisted that he wanted to spend his entire career here, still could re-sign with the Pittsburgh Penguins if he does not find something to his liking on the open market.

Malkin, who turns 36 this month, and the Penguins could not reconcile their differences on a new contract. As the deadline neared, the Penguins appeared to be sticking to three years on their offer, and Malkin wanted either more money at that term or a fourth year to raise the overall contract value.

His expiring contract carried an AAV of $9.5 million, and he will be one of the biggest names on the free-agent market.

While the Penguins were in Montreal last week for the NHL Draft, they announced that another core player, defenseman Kris Letang, had avoided free agency and agreed to a six-year, $36.6 million contract.

At that point, GM Ron Hextall did not seem overly optimistic about negotiations with Malkin, although he and Malkin had made it clear they wanted him to re-sign and, ideally, retire with the team that selected him second overall in the 2004 NHL draft.

The other member of the core player trio, center Sidney Crosby, has three seasons remaining on his contract. Crosby is the team captain; Malkin and Letang have served as the alternate captains.

A fourth long-time core player, goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, left in 2017 – just after the Penguins’ latest Stanley Cup title – when he was selected by the Vegas Golden Knights in their expansion draft, something that was orchestrated by both clubs.

Malkin is expected to reach the major milestone of 1,000 games early in the coming season. He sits at 981 games, with 444 goals and 1,146 points, in his career. He won the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year in 2007, the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP when the Penguins won the Cup in 2009, the Art Ross Trophy as scoring champion in 2009 and 2012, the Hart Trophy as league MVP in 2012 and the Ted Lindsay Award as most outstanding player as voted by fellow players in 2012.

Evgeni Malkin has 67 goals, 180 points in 177 playoff games.

Last season, Malkin averaged just over a point a game – 20 goals, 42 points in 41 games – but he missed the first half of the season because of major knee surgery last offseason.

In fact, Malkin has missed significant time because of injuries in recent seasons. The closest he has come to a full season in more than a decade was 78 games in 2017-18.

Malkin still looked dominant at times this past season, although some believe he isn’t the skater he used to be.

Shelly Anderson contributed to this report.