There will be changes to the Pittsburgh Penguins for the 2020-21 season, whenever that may occur. After another humbling “hello and goodbye” type exit from the NHL postseason and heightened emotions in the Penguins organization, significant changes are not off the table. But, Evgeni Malkin will not be one of those changes.
A Penguins team source who spoke to PHN over the last couple of days confirmed Malkin’s place in the organization, and trading Evgeni Malkin is not a consideration. The Penguins’ two-headed monster with Sidney Crosby will remain together for reasons which go beyond hockey.
This season, Malkin scored 74 points in just 55 games. He had a hand in 40% of the Penguins offensive output during Crosby’s 28-game absence due to core muscle surgery.
Malkin, with LW Jake Guentzel and RW Bryan Rust, scored 18 even strength goals in November and December, until Guentzel suffered a severe shoulder injury on Dec. 30. The stats are according to the line tool at NaturalStatTrick.com. In those two months, the rest of the team scored only 27 goals.
Malkin garnered Hart Trophy talk until Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid and teammmate Leon Draisaitl blew open the scoring race, and Malkin, too, was injured.
Our team source indicated that not only does the Penguins organization not want to trade Malkin, but also Malkin himself is not interested, and Crosby is firmly against it. Our source also believes if the topic were broached again, Pittsburgh Penguins owner Mario Lemieux would squash it.
The context of the above stems from a dramatic series of events last summer, which went further than we previously reported or knew. Last June, PHN reported the Florida Panthers were interested in acquiring Malkin, and the Penguins were listening.
As the Penguins trade rumors picked up, there were real talks. Those Penguins trade talks were not a bluff.
A league source confirmed some details, as a team source told the story on Sunday and Monday as the context for Malkin’s renewed commitment to the Penguins, and vice versa.
After Malkin joined a chorus of players who agreed it was time for the Penguins and winger Phil Kessel to part company, Malkin was next to go. Some inside the Penguins believed a seismic shift was needed after the New York Islanders swept the Penguins and the Florida Panthers came knocking.
As further background, recall the friction between Kessel, Malkin, and Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan.
The Penguins source indicated the Malkin trade talks were far more advanced than previously believed, though our league source could not verify that.
The story from the Penguins side is the reason Malkin still a member of the Penguins and why he will remain so.
Upon hearing that Malkin could be traded to Florida, and Malkin would approve the trade, Penguins captain Sidney Crosby stepped into the middle as a peacemaker. Crosby pushed Malkin to meet with Sullivan, before accepting the trade, to smooth differences. Crosby also urged the organization, including GM Jim Rutherford, to abandon the idea of trading Malkin.
The Penguins sent a delegation to the World Championships in Slovakia, where Malkin was playing for Team Russia to begin the process of reconciliation or move forward with trade plans.
Our Penguins voice believed the trade was close until cooler heads prevailed, and both Malkin and the Penguins affirmed their commitment to the other.
Recall the words from Malkin’s wife just a couple of months ago when she said she would like him to star for his own team, but Evgeni would say no. He almost didn’t say no, but after conversations, he did. And Jim Rutherford did. And Mike Sullivan did.
Malkin has three Stanley Cup rings, 74 points in 55 games, a firm standing in the locker room, and commitments from all sides that he should remain a lasting part of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
And that’s why Evgeni Malkin will not be traded.