Evgeni Malkin

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Maybe Penguins should listen to Malkin about Zaripov

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The Pittsburgh Penguins bummed out Evgeni Malkin a few years ago when they traded James Neal.

Of course, things worked out quite well for Malkin and the Penguins since then – sometimes to Neal’s chagrin – but maybe the team should throw Malkin a bone this time around?

As Josh Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports, Malkin continues to promote the idea of the Penguins signing Denis Zaripov.

“ … If coach talks to me a little more, I would say more. I like [Zaripov] so much,” Malkin said. “Of course I want to see his face in the locker room. We see what’s going on, but we have time. It’s a hard situation to talk about him.”

At 36 years old and with a ban from the KHL in mind, there are some hang-ups about Zaripov, especially from a long-term perspective.

Still, the Penguins probably wouldn’t lose much in rolling the dice with a one-year deal. And while Zaripov is about a decade older than Artemi Panarin, let’s not forget that the St. Louis Blues ignored Vladimir Tarasenko‘s praise of Panarin, only to see him star for the Blackhawks.

Sure, there’s an element of stumping for your buddies here, but sometimes it works out well. Even after all these years, Matt Moulson stands as one of John Tavares‘ better linemates, and their bond helped Moulson get his foot in the door with the Islanders many years ago.

Just a thought …

… especially since the Penguins seem so open-minded about taking fliers on players with some upside.

Not long after grabbing a goalie who impressed at the Prospects Challenge, Pittsburgh handed a three-year, entry-level contract to forward Jordy Bellerive after impressing in that format.

Now, we’re talking about different types of upside here (young players vs. a veteran who put up nice KHL numbers for years and might convert them to the big time), but maybe the Penguins should listen to Malkin on this one?

If nothing else, it would cut down on one “I told you so.” Just saying.

Malkin wants Reaves to score goals, not protect him

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The biggest move the Pittsburgh Penguins made over the summer was the decision to trade out of the first-round so they could acquire Ryan Reaves from the St. Louis Blues.

It was a pretty surprising move because the addition of Reaves seemed to run counter to the Penguins’ approach the past two seasons where they were a fast, skilled team and didn’t really have a player like Reaves on their roster. But they felt Reaves could offer some sort of protection for their stars, specifically centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. General manager Jim Rutherford said over the summer he was tired of his team getting beat up every game and did something to, in his mind, address that.

Will he be able to? That is certainly up for some level of debate, but his presence probably will not deter any cheap shots from opposing players.

It seems that Malkin wants something else from Reaves other than protection: He wants him to score goals because in Malkin’s words, he can protect himself.

Via NHL.com’s Wes Crosby:

Reaves has worked in recent years to improve his skating and is coming off of a 2016-17 season that saw him set new career highs in goals (seven) and total points (13). But even with that improvement it still seems unlikely that Reaves is going to be much of an offensive contributor. He has been an eight-minute per night player throughout his entire career, while his career highs a year ago were mostly due to the fact he simply appeared in more games (his goal, point per game averages were right in line with the rest of his career). Now that he is going to a team that is loaded with offensive talent it seems hard to imagine that he would get any sort of an increased role.

Penguins camp begins with a lot of news, including Kessel sticking with Malkin

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Pittsburgh Penguins training camp is just now swinging back into action, and there was a lot to digest on Friday. Let’s take a look at everything in lightning-round fashion.

Phil Kessel + Evgeni Malkin … + basketball?

A lot – way too much, probably – was made of Kessel barking on the bench, with many perceiving it to be at Malkin, before scoring a huge goal against the Senators during the 2017 Eastern Conference Final.

Kessel told media members including the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Jason Mackey that the yapping wasn’t directed at Malkin, and that they get along great. (He also had great things to say about Geno Malkin, basketball player. Picture Malkin’s sweet jumper for a moment or two if you’re bored.)

As a reminder, here’s Kessel yapping away.

Good times.

One thing Kessel wasn’t interested in talking about? Apparently he grew his hair out a bit this summer.

Never change, Phil.

Patric Hornqvist update

The bad news is that Patric Hornqvist’s hand issue required “a procedure” during the summer. The good news is that the Penguins expect him to be back toward the end of training camp. Even if that’s a bit optimistic, it seems like it’s a positive update overall for the guy who scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal.

The search to replace Nick Bonino

Is it too bold to wonder if the Penguins might just turn Matt Duchene‘s frown upside down?

OK, imagining Duchene as a third-line center seems like a stretch, but you have to admit that it’s quite the intriguing teaser for GM Jim Rutherford to leave things so enticingly vague.

The Penguins’ website goes deeper on the subject, including on easier-to-manage, in-house fixes, including possibly trying Jake Guentzel as their 3C.

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Those are the biggest considerations coming out of Penguins camp, but there’s more, such as Letang initially lining up with Olli Maatta. Scroll Mackey’s feed and the Penguins’ official feed for more nuggets, among other sources, as there’s a lot out there regarding the back-to-back defending champs trying to make it three in a row.

Pastrnak becoming highest-paid Bruins player wouldn’t bother Marchand

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The Boston Bruins boast several veteran players who are getting paid nicely, but David Krejci leads the pack with a $7.25 million cap hit.

There’s a very, very strong chance that David Pastrnak will receive a deal that carries a larger AAV, particularly after Leon Draisaitl received an eight-year deal that carries an $8.5M cap hit.

MORE: Pastrnak is a star, so the Bruins should pay him as such.

One could picture the Bruins’ brass asking Pastrnak: “How would Brad Marchand, Tuukka Rask, and Patrice Bergeron feel about making less than you?” After all, we’ve seen top players serve as useful “ceilings” for teammates’ paydays before; just think about how happy the Pittsburgh Penguins were to give Sidney Crosby a deal with an $8.7M cap hit.

(Yes, Evgeni Malkin makes a bit more per season, but you wonder if 87 kept 71 under the $10M threshold.)

Anyway, as persuasive as that hypothetical argument might be, Marchand told the Boston Herald’s Matt Kalman that he won’t begrudge Pastrnak if he garners a richer deal. There seems to be a “rising tides lift all boats” logic to the star-pest’s take.

“We all want to see each other be successful,” Marchand said. “He had a great year last year so we’ll be very happy for him with whatever he ends up getting. The contract that he signs, Pasta’s going to make a lot of money, he’s a phenomenal player, he’s 21 years old, he’s going to have a long career. We all like to see each other be successful and do well and that’s the way the game goes.”

Marchand, 29, probably isn’t sweating things too much right now.

While $6.125M is a bargain for a player who’s blossomed into an elite winger in the NHL, that contract runs through 2024-25, giving him long-term security. It was a nice boost from the $4.5M cap hit his previous deal carried, and it made sense for Marchand to sign at the time, particularly when you consider how dangerous his agitating style can be.

(One angry opponent could conceivably have had enough with his antics and that extension could have been in danger.)

Marchand spoke to the Boston Herald about timing with these deals, and it’s clear with Pastrnak and Draisaitl that they’re benefiting from their teams not doing the work to get their extensions done as early as possible.

In each case, those forwards took full advantage of “prove it” seasons, with some nice help from linemates such as Connor McDavid and Marchand.

Marchand might wish that his contract situation lined up a bit differently, but it would be silly of him to hold it against Pastrnak. Luckily, Marchand seems to take the same, sober stance.

Besides, if “Pasta” boils down under the pressure of a new deal, the Boston media will probably do the agitating for him.

More on Pasta talk

“No timetable” for a deal yet.

Pastrnak might want an eight-year term.

$6M per season might not cut it.

Video: Hey, another funny commercial with Patrice Bergeron

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There was – justifiably – a lot of shock when Evgeni Malkin was left off the NHL 100 list, but you could make a sound argument that Patrice Bergeron was snubbed, too.

Bergeron is one of those rare players who’s so brilliant, he bridges the gap between “fancy stats” and “the eye test.” It’s difficult to find any arguments against his acumen, aside from, perhaps, people straining to argue for their guy to win the Selke.

Perhaps we should add “underrated funny guy in commercials,” as Bergeron was a part of a fun VISA spot that also included bickering San Jose Sharks forwards Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski.

(Couture, by the way, seems fairly comfortable considering his horrific mouth injury, so that’s good.)

If you’ve ever been in a situation where you’re traveling with obnoxious co-workers, that VISA ad likely hits your funny bone a little harder, although Bergeron would only be a co-worker of theirs on All-Star teams or with Couture in international play.

Anyway, it’s fun, and it’s not the first time Bergeron’s provided some laughs in an ad. As you may remember, he had quite the showing in this spot hyping up “NHL 15.”

(H/T to Puck Daddy.)