Penguins say they have a ballpark idea for Evgeni Malkin’s return

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May 20, 2021; Uniondale, New York, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (71) skates against the New York Islanders during the first period in game three of the first round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Penguins have a “ballpark idea” when star forward Evgeni Malkin will make his season debut, head coach Mike Sullivan said Wednesday.

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

“We’ll see how he progresses as he gets closer, but what I will tell you is that we’re very encouraged with the progress that he’s made.”

Malkin on the road back

Malkin, 35, injured his right knee in a March 16 game against the Boston Bruins and was sidelined for 23 games. He underwent surgery in early June.

On Sept. 23, Penguins general manager Ron Hextall said Malkin would miss at least the first two months of the season.

Malkin finished last season with a career-low 28 points (eight goals, 20 assists) in 33 games. He added five points in Pittsburgh’s first-round playoff loss to the New York Islanders.

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.

Malkin has 1,104 points (424 goals, 680 assists) in 940 games, all with the Penguins. He is entering his 16th season.

–Field Level Media