NHL Rumors: Malkin not thinking contract, return of Jagr, plus Rangers rentals

NHL Rumors Evgeni Malkin
Jan 4, 2020; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (71) during a first period face-off against Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Penguins are still eagerly awaiting the return of center Evgeni Malkin from knee surgery.

“We have a ballpark idea of when we think he’ll be available,” head coach Mike Sullivan said back in late November. “I’m always reluctant to put a date out there, because if we don’t meet that date, everyone speculates.”

Many insiders at the time said they would be shocked if he returned before Christmas, and they were right.

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NHL Rumors: Malkin not concerned about contract

Malkin, 35, injured his right knee last season against the Boston Bruins and was sidelined for 23 games. He underwent surgery in early June and has yet to play.

However, the more pressing issue is his future and in particular that with the Penguins since he will be a UFA this summer.

“I want to play like maybe three, four years more. I didn’t want to be worried like every game about my knee,” he said via the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette. “Now my knee is like 200% stronger.”

He is in the final year of an eight-year, $76 million extension signed in June 2013 and will become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

“No. No. I’m not thinking about that, my contract,” Malkin added. “I’m not thinking about money. I want to get back to my level of play. We have great group. We have great coaches. I’ve missed hockey so much and I want to enjoy every game.”

Malkin has 1,104 points (424 goals, 680 assists) in 940 games, all with the Penguins. If he hits the free agent market, I’m sure several teams will be ready to give him a contract.

The return of Jaromir Jagr?

jaromir jagr rumors
Dec 31, 2017; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames right wing Jaromir Jagr (68) during the warmup period against the Chicago Blackhawks at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Jaromir Jagr is 49 years old and has 1921 NHL career points to his name. He is currently playing in the Czech Extraliga for a team he owns, Rytiri Kladno.

Of course, with COVID spikes and the return of taxi squads some are musing about a possible Jagr return to the NHL. Frank Seravalli put it out there, although how serious he was remains to be seen. Darren Dreger was even asked about it on TSN radio to which he joked: “[Jagr] can still play, just put his big butt in front.”

However, considering Jagr’s ownership of the Rytiri Klaxon, and his feelings about his game it’s likely not happening.

“The main reason I am still playing is my responsibility to the club,” he explained last April. “If I did not have any, I would not be flying around on the ice here. Because I am embarrassing myself there, I can say.”

New York Rangers rentals

The Blueshirts have struggled recently by losing five of their last seven games (2-4-1) but hold a 12 point lead over the last wild card spot. Their upcoming schedule only gets tougher with two games against the Lightning, and one versus the Oilers before a West Coast trip that kicks-off in Vegas.

Recently Arthur Staple of The Athletic was asked if the Rangers should go all in at the deadline.

I’d look at Calvin de Haan from Chicago to start, since he could likely be had for a mid-round pick — and then aim high for another top-nine forward. How high? Why not see what the Flyers would want for Claude Giroux? He’s a guy with a proven track record who can play center and wing. You have to ask.

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Staple continued with targeting the Sharks Tomas Hertl since the Rangers have the cap space to play with this summer and then landed on the same player I’ve said is most likely. Pending UFA Reilly Smith in Vegas played for Gerard Gallant when he was there, plus when Jack Eichel comes off LTIR they will be forced to move his salary to accommodate.