Pittsburgh Penguins star center Evgeni Malkin said last week he would be ready in about seven to 10 days. That was right before he unleashed his viral quote, “I’m like a pretty rich guy,” and laughed all the way. Malkin had right knee surgery in early June after rest and rehab did not improve the situation.
On Friday, the Pittsburgh Penguins cleared two roster spots by sending forward Radim Zohorna to the WBS Penguins and moving goalie Louis Domingue to the practice squad.
“…The second MRI (in June) showed a little bit worse, and it was a hard choice. I waited a couple of days and decided that, yeah, I needed surgery. I want to play like three or four years more, and I didn’t want to worry every game about my knee. Now my knee is 100% stronger,” Malkin said on Dec. 29.
On the surface, at least the Domingue move could be to save a few salary cap dollars as both Tristan Jarry and Casey DeSmith are healthy.
Malkin has been a full participant in Penguins practices, taking regular line rushes, and some contact. However, clearing two spots as Malkin will be 10 days clear from last week’s 10-day prognosis is more than a little suspicious.
Could we see the 2021-22 Pittsburgh Penguins season debut of Evgeni Malkin?
Perhaps the return of Jeff Carter?
The Penguins won their 10th in a row on Thursday night, easily outpacing the hobbled Philadelphia Flyers, 6-2. Neither Malkin nor Jeff Carter, who recently cleared COVID protocol but was dealing with some lingering effects of the virus, played on Thursday.
Earlier this week, GM Ron Hextall also traded depth forward Sam Lafferty to the Chicago Blackhawks for former prospect Alex Nylander, who reported immediately to the WBS Penguins.
Evgeni Malkin, 35, is in the final year of his contract but downplayed any worries of a new deal during that viral press conference. Carter, 36, is also in the final year of his deal. Carter has 17 points, including nine goals in 27 games this season.
The Penguins face the Dallas Stars Saturday, 2 p.m. at American Airlines Center.
Update: Saturday, Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said Jeff Carter would play, but Evgeni Malkin would not.