Evgeni Malkin still has three seasons remaining on an eight-year, $76 million contract he signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins on June 13, 2013, but the forward said in an interview with The Athletic he wants to sign on for three more seasons once it expires.
“It’s (a) huge next three years,” Malkin told the website in a story published Tuesday. “I still want to play 100 percent — and sign (for) three more years with Pittsburgh.”
The 33-year-old forward is coming off a rough season by his standards, when he had 72 points (21 goals, 51 assists) in 68 games and was a Penguins worst minus-25. He had three points (one goal, two assists) in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, when Pittsburgh was swept by the New York Islanders in the Eastern Conference First Round.
Despite his struggles, Malkin said he believes that he can not only get back to where he once was — he has won the Art Ross Trophy twice (2009, 2012) and Hart Trophy once (2012) — but that he is still improving.
“I (have) not shown my game at 100 percent. I still think I can be better.”
As a result, Malkin returned to Russia this offseason, where he trained in Moscow with Penguins strength and conditioning coach Alex Trinca, focusing on his skating.
He said his goal is to return to playing 20 minutes per game this season, something he hasn’t done since the 2013-14 season (20:04). Last season, Malkin had 18:48 of ice time per game.
“I always feel like I’m thinking on ice,” Malkin said. “But it’s only when you’re older you realize how I can change (my) game to be better.”
If he can be better, he said he feels the Penguins still have the pieces in place to compete again for the Stanley Cup, something they’ve done together three times (2009, 2016, 2017).
“With this team, we have (a) real chance to win again,” Malkin said. “I believe that, for sure. Because we have professionals in our organization.
“My desire is to win a fourth Cup. It’s, like, not many Russians with four Cups. I would be (the) only one. This is my target right now.”
Malkin, who was selected by Pittsburgh with the No. 2 pick in the 2004 NHL Draft, has 1,002 points (391 goals, 611 assists) in 852 regular-season games and 168 points (63 goals, 105 assists) in 162 playoff games.
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