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Burke: Penguins Waiting on Letang, Malkin … for Now

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Pittsburgh Penguins, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang

Kris Letang insists that he wants to re-sign with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Same with Evgeni Malkin.

The Penguins are adamant that they’d like to keep both. PHN spoke with Penguins president of hockey operations Brian Burke on Wednesday, shortly after he completed an interview with NHL Sirius/XM Home Ice, too.

No one involved in the talks, though, has publicly expressed confidence that keeping Letang or Malkin will happen.

Mostly because there is a lot of hard negotiating to be done before it’s determined whether either player still is on the payroll this fall. On the air, Burke seemed to indicate the ball was in the player’s court.

“I can tell you in 20 seconds. We want to bring both players back. We’ve made them very fair offers,” Burke told host Gord Stellick. “They’re going to come back with something that makes sense, or they’re not. It’s that simple.”

Letang, Malkin and their agents have decided how much they believe they are worth, and whether remaining with the Penguins means enough to them to pare their contract demands. And, if so, by how much.

Management, meanwhile, has figured out how high its offers can be while still making it possible to re-sign other players, or to replace some who leave, while complying with the NHL’s cap ceiling of $82.5 million for 2022-23.

Although the Penguins will have exclusive negotiating rights with their free agents until noon on July 13, there’s little reason to believe talks with Letang and Malkin will continue that long.

What happens with those two is the linchpin of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ offseason plans, since the deals they accept — or decline to — will determine whether the team finds a new No. 2 center and top-pairing defenseman, as well as how much cap space is available to assemble the roster.

But it isn’t practical for the front office to wait until the free-agent signing period begins before negotiating with its other free-agents-to-be and considering possible replacements for Letang and Malkin.

“Our first priority was to sign Bryan Rust,” Burke said. “We were very happy we were able to get that done. The next two pieces will dictate what happens after this. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle, where you can’t really do a lot of the puzzle until you put the middle pieces in.

“So we have to figure out what Kris Letang wants to do, and what Evgeni Malkin wants to do. Once we determine that, then other pieces will fall into place. For now, we’re waiting on these two guys. That might not be the case much longer.”

He added that “I don’t think a hard deadline (for ending negotiations) would be productive right now, but yes, at some point, one will kick in.”

Per CapFriendly.com, the Pittsburgh Penguins have about $23.2 million in cap space available. Burke said it is “a distinct possibility” that there will be trades to open additional space, but that “we’re not there yet.”

Hs also said management has not decided whether to allow any of the Penguins’ restricted free agents — Kasperi Kapanen and Danton Heinen are the two on the major-league roster — to become unrestricted by declining to give them a qualifying offer.

How active the Penguins will be in the free-agent market next month will be influenced by a number of variables — the outcome of the Letang and Malkin talks top that list — but Burke said that if they get involved, it will be with specific targets in mind.

“You do your shopping list, then you go shopping,” he said. “When you go shopping without a shopping list, you make bad decisions. We’re going to set prices on guys, then go see what makes sense.

“If you look at last year, we shopped at K-Mart and we hit some good values. We should have more cap space than that, depending on what the two big guys do, then maybe you can shop at Nordstrom.

“But you still shop with a list. ‘Here’s what we’d like. Here’s what we’ll pay.’ The day you don’t shop with a list is the day you make bad decisions.”

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DaveHeyl
DaveHeyl
1 month ago

I believe the major sticking point no one has talked about is a no trade clause. If the Pens sign both Letang & Malkin to the deals their agents believe they are worth, The team cannot be hand tied as they age. If the NT clause is negotiated out, that adds value beyond the salary cap.

Stanley Cup
1 month ago
Reply to  DaveHeyl

You make no sense whatsoever in offering a “no-trade clause” to two aging “superstar” players who helped contribute to a 4th year of first-round Stanley Cup Playoff elimination syndrome. So-called “superstars” are expected by the owners, management, and the fans who make their salary possible, to achieve further than the first-round of the playoffs. Let’s stop harboring emotional ties to athletes who are making millions of dollars for consistent, sub-par, team performance and start planning for a future Stanley Cup Championship with fresh, new talented players.

Hatrick Pornqvist
Hatrick Pornqvist
1 month ago

Sounds like Burke is pretty much saying that the team has made their final offers, that the offers are as much as they can be while still being able to fill out the rest of the roster, and that it’s now on the two players to decide whether that happens or not. Basically saying we can’t afford to put a good team on the ice if you ask for more than this, so take it or leave it.

Ujn Hunter
1 month ago

Sounds about right Porny. Can I call you Porny?

Cal
Cal
1 month ago

Sounds reasonable

Pete
Pete
1 month ago

Pretty clear that $$ mean more than winning to 71 and 58. Remember, “I’m a pretty rich guy.”
They seem like they would rather make max bucks and exit in the first round (or even miss the playoffs) than to share some wealth with teammates who can make a deep playoff run.
Sad indeed. Maybe time to move on.

Stanley Cup
1 month ago
Reply to  Pete

A Russian who has dual-citizenship as an escape-route and a Canadian who is afraid to clear out the slot in front of his own goal. It’s quite obvious that both do not deserve millions of dollars for what they do not do.

Stephen Powanda
Stephen Powanda
1 month ago

I think if either wants more than 3 years it is time to move on. My personal affordable wish list is Trochak, Manson, and Fluery. Let the minuses begin.

Cal
Cal
1 month ago

No minuses Stephen, it’s your opinion and you are entitled to it. If the two sign for a collective 15m-ish (??) for more than 3 years the team will be paying that for a 39 & 40 year old players and counting every year! See Minnesota.
I don’t buy the team will crumble without those two. Time will tell when they fill out the roster what kind of team they have. Besides, who is to say that the team would make the playoffs next year with this current roster? No guarantees in this league.

Stanley Cup
1 month ago
Reply to  Cal

Exactly!

Stanley Cup
1 month ago

Their time is up! No years is more honest and factual.

Bokonon80
Bokonon80
1 month ago

I wonder what the Russian idiom is for crap or get off the pot?

Curt Lindner
Curt Lindner
1 month ago
Reply to  Bokonon80

It is f##k!

Cal
Cal
1 month ago

Dave, assuming the big two FAs move on….what do you think about Monahan from Calgary as a possible Center in Pitts? Did he get hurt or just turn to crap in the last few years? If not him, anyone else on your radar? Or is that for another article to come. Thanks

Dan Kingerski
Admin
1 month ago
Reply to  Cal

He had major hip surgery recently and will be out for a significant time.

Stanley Cup
1 month ago
Reply to  Cal

What is an “FA?”

Katz is Dumb
Katz is Dumb
1 month ago
Reply to  Stanley Cup

Free Agent

Rich FILARDI
Rich FILARDI
1 month ago

Fairly easy to make judgment from 1 side of the story. I suspect the player/agent side has a different take, leaving what is the middle ground of truth. Will be a very interesting 2 weeks.

Stanley Cup
1 month ago
Reply to  Rich FILARDI

There is no “middle ground” when the overall goal is winning the Stanley Cup, my friend. “Middle ground” is one of the many reasons the Penguins organization is in the conundrum they are in.

Troy
Troy
1 month ago

Losing Fleury to the Expansion Draft was a hard decision. Losing both Malkin and Letang are also needed hard decisions. When you look at age, cost, and expected return it makes sense to let these two go. Resign Rakell (if reasonable), Rodrigues, Kapanen, and Heinenen. Give POJ a shot at third pairing. Hope Matheson/Marino are able to produce on the PP. See what other FA are available, see what players are available for trade. Finally, if MAF is available for $3 mil sign him to a 2yr deal, and extend Jarry. Find a decent goalie prospect and groom him in… Read more »

Stanley Cup
1 month ago
Reply to  Troy

Try spelling out your many acronyms, my friend.

Katz is Dumb
Katz is Dumb
1 month ago
Reply to  Stanley Cup

Did you just start following the Penguins and hockey???
POJ = Pierre-Olivier Joseph
PP = Power Play
FA = Free Agent
MAF = Marc-Andre Fleury
mil = million
yr = year
WBS = Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins

TIMOTHY HOFFMAANN
TIMOTHY HOFFMAANN
1 month ago
Reply to  Troy

Well I agree to go after MAF

Frank
Frank
1 month ago

I mostly ignore anything Burke says. This was no exception. Essentially he said that the team has to wait and see what Malkin and Letang want to do. Yeah .. OK . .. .that was the case at the final buzzer of game 7 with the Rangers. But I understand how Burkie is just catching on to that. I am confident the team has its best offer on the table and open to some minor adjustments for either or both. If the money gap is wide or the term too short then both players should explore what the other teams… Read more »

Stanley Cup
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank

Exactly!

Pete
Pete
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank

Fine. Then the players should just say we are going for max bucks instead of this BS about wanting to stay in Pgh. If they gave a crap about a deep run they would take less so they could have some quality teammates to make a deep run.

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