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There’s a Deadline Looming … and it’s Not for Signing Malkin

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Pittsburgh Penguins, Evgeni Malkin, Danton Heinen

The Pittsburgh Penguins have some pretty prominent players who will become free agents if they don’t receive a contract by noon Wednesday.

You might have heard in recent weeks, for example, that they’ve been doing a bit of negotiating with Evgeni Malkin.

Rickard Rakell, Evan Rodrigues, Brian Boyle, Louis Domingue and (gasp) Nathan Beaulieu are poised to leave the payroll in a few days, too.

But while the Malkin talks, which seem to hinge largely on whether Malkin will settle for three years or the team will add a fourth to its offer, have received most of the attention lately, getting an agreement with him actually is not Ron Hextall’s most time-sensitive challenge.

More pressing is deciding whether to extend qualifying offers to the team’s restricted-free-agents-to-be before the deadline Monday. Potential RFAs who do not receive one immediately become unrestricted, and can begin negotiating with prospective new employers Tuesday.

The collection of such players throughout the Penguins’ organization is in double-digits, and there’s little reason to believe that all will be qualified before the deadline. Defenseman P.O Joseph seems like a safe bet to receive an offer, and forward Alexander Nylander might be a good candidate, too.

But two wingers who were on the major-league roster in 2021-22 — Kasperi Kapanen and Danton Heinen — represent the most intriguing cases for Hextall and his staff to consider.

As of midday Sunday, however, management apparently had not determined whether to qualify Heinen and/or Kapanen. Those decisions likely are influenced to some degree by the Malkin negotiations, since the Penguins have only about $15.3 million in salary-cap space available.

An equally significant  — and perhaps even bigger — factor is that Heinen and Kapanen are eligible for salary arbitration.

If not for that, it likely would be a given that Heinen would get the requisite $1.1 million offer, while Kapanen would be receiving his, which would be worth $840,000.

After all, qualifying them would give the Pittsburgh Penguins the right to compensation if either signed with another team.

However, if a player takes his team to arbitration, there’s a chance he will be awarded a contract that could sabotage the team’s salary structure, or even push it above the salary-cap ceiling.

A club has can walk away from an arbitration award it deems excessive, but only if its average annual value is above a designated level. Per CapFriendly.com, that now is $4,538,958, so it presumably would not be a factor for Heinen or Kapanen.

Heinen, signed as a free agent in 2021 after Anaheim declined to give him a qualifying offer, had a solid season with the Penguins, putting up 18 goals and 15 assists in 76 games.

Conversely, Kapanen struggled for most of the season. He was projected to be a fixture on the second line, but played his way down — and, sometimes, out of — the lineup before finishing with 11 goals and 21 assists in 79 games.

His qualifying offer is dramatically lower than the salary-cap hit of $3.2 million on his expiring deal because of the way it is structured.

Sometime before Tuesday, he and Heinen will get a pretty good idea of whether their next contracts will be coming from the Penguins.

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ehasenel
ehasenel
1 month ago

I don’t understand why they wouldn’t qualify them and then if the contract is too high trade them. They both will have value to another club at their arbitration contract numbers. Those numbers are supposed to represent fair value, they won’t be bonkers like some free agent signings will, and by the time the team needs to be cap compliant they can move them if necessary. Thoughts? Am i missing something.

kingpuck
kingpuck
1 month ago
Reply to  ehasenel

Heinen is exactly what this team does not need and has zero trade value. I would not be surprised if there is a trade announced tonight or early tomorrow that include KK’s rights.

Bob
Bob
1 month ago
Reply to  kingpuck

I agree! Heinen is worth his salary.

Bob
Bob
1 month ago
Reply to  Bob

At least Heinen can score goals Negative replies!

Rich Filardi
Rich Filardi
1 month ago

Is it possible they dont qualify them to go after a player tnat hasnt recvd an offer like Strone?

Last edited 1 month ago by Rich Filardi
bdgr
bdgr
1 month ago

Hopefully, we start learning a bit more about GMRH’s direction soon!

Mark Fisher
Mark Fisher
1 month ago
Reply to  bdgr

It’s in his head.

Bob
Bob
1 month ago

Let Malkin go and start stirring the pot with this team.Change of scenery does a player good.

Mark Fisher
Mark Fisher
1 month ago

#SignGeno Trade Dumo.

Tootus
Tootus
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark Fisher

Trade Marino. Worth more in a trade

Mark Fisher
Mark Fisher
1 month ago
Reply to  Tootus

They need to create space for POJ. I’ll keep the three younger LHD and trade Dumo.

Bob
Bob
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark Fisher

Trade Dumo if you can and let Geno walk

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