Brian Burke says Penguins in win now mode this season but BIG moves on the table after that

Jan 19, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) celebrates his game winning goal in overtime with defenseman Kris Letang (58) against the Washington Capitals at PPG Paints Arena. Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Brian Burke is the new President of Hockey Operations for the Pittsburgh Penguins. He’s been on the media circuit recently and been fairly candid about the state of his new team.

The Penguins new head man is pretty open about his theories on coming into a new team.”Get to know your team, and then do something special,” Burke told Daren Millard on The Chirp.

That “something special” was giving the Whalers a year before making a blockbuster to draft Chris Pronger, same in Vancouver to get the Sedin twins, followed by the trade to bring in Phil Kessel in Toronto.

Penguins in a win mode for this season, but big moves on the table

“We want to see how far this group can get us, and then we have to figure out for next year,” Burke recalled his conversation with Pittsburgh’s owners. “Kris Letang is entering the last year of his contract, Evgeni Malkin is entering the last year of his contract and we have to have serious discussion to where we go from there.”

When pointedly asked if they are in a win now mode Burke quickly said, “For this season, yep.”

Burke then explained if there is a deal that can make them better tomorrow they will. However, they need to be able to afford it due to limited cap space. “It’s win now, BUT – it’s win now and we’ll take a look in the summer.”

The Future of Sidney Crosby

While Sidney Crosby is the most likely to not be moved, there’s been some speculation on the topic. That came from none other than top insider, Darren Dreger.

“It wouldn’t shock me AT ALL,” he said recently. “If Sid said ‘look I want my legacy to be you collected the pieces based on moving me to the Colorado Avalanche or the New York Rangers or whatever the team is’.”

His comments caused quite a stir, but Burke and his GM Ron Hextall will look to keep Crosby for the rebuild. However, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang will not get any assurances.

The Futures of Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang

Evgeni Malkin rumors
Jan 22, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (71) warms up before playing the New York Rangers at the PPG Paints Arena. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

When it comes to Evgeni Malkin the story seems to change like the ocean tides. Here’s what Rob Rossi recently wrote in The Athletic:

Neither Lemieux nor majority ownership partner Ron Burkle involve themselves in the day-to-day business or hockey decisions for the Penguins. However, there’s an exception for decisions involving the Penguins’ biggest stars, a source said. If Malkin wants to stay, the Penguins will keep him. Burke and Hextall were said to understand this dynamic when signing on for their jobs.

Now it seems that isn’t a given. Mark Madden of 105.9 The X claimed a source told him that Malkin is unlikely to be traded and should be extended. However, there would be a “review” before making a decision.

Considering what Brian Burke just said, that follow up report appears accurate. That means if trading Malkin makes sense, they will consider it.

As far as it goes with Letang, he’s already been rumored to be traded. In a now disputed report, Jim Rutherford’s abrupt resignation was tied to the owners killing a deal involving the 35 year-old defenseman.

Regardless it that was the case, the future of these two stars is far from certain. The only thing that is certain would be Brian Burke’s willingness to make big deals.

Hold on to your hats in Pittsburgh.

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