Pittsburgh Penguins president of hockey operations Brian Burke denied Tuesday that contract talks broke down with Evgeny Malkin because of term.
TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger reported Monday that Malkin had decided to test free agency for the first time and see his options. Other media reports surfaced that Malkin was led to his decision by the Penguins’ refusal to offer a four-year term on an extension.
“We were unable to reach a deal,” Burke told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “We made an offer that we were comfortable with. There are stories out there that we never offered a four-year deal. That’s completely false. But as far as the mechanics and the amounts, we never talk about that stuff.”
Shortly after the reports of Malkin testing the market surfaced, the Penguins signed forward Rickard Rakell to a six-year, $30 million contract extension.
Burke said that signing Rakell did not close the door on Malkin’s return, but the team will have to make a final decision soon after the free agent market opens on Wednesday.
“The window is still open. But the timing is problematic,” Burke said. “Once free agency opens, we have to commit to what we need to do to improve our hockey club. So the timing may not work. But certainly, there’s no reaction on our part that, ‘Oh, we don’t want Evgeni back.’ However, ‘This is horrible. What’s he thinking?’ None of that. It’s more, that store window is going to open (on Wednesday) and we’ve got to go to the store.”
Malkin scored 20 goals and had 42 points in 41 games with the Penguins last season. He had three goals and six points in seven playoff games as the Penguins were eliminated in the first round by the New York Rangers.
The 35-year-old is coming off an eight-year, $76 million contract with an average annual value of $9.5 million.
Pittsburgh has $10.3 million in cap space with 19 players under contract for next season after re-signing Rakell, Kris Letang, Casey DeSmith and Bryan Rust already this off-season.