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Pens' Malkin says extension coming

| Friday, June 13, 2008

TORONTO -- Evgeni Malkin did not leave the NHL Awards Show at Elgin Theatre on Thursday night with either the Hart Trophy or the Lester B. Pearson Award.

But he said the prize he really covets -- a long-term contract extension with the Penguins -- is on its way.

"I'm thinking maybe five or six years," said Malkin, set to enter the final season of his three-year entry-level deal. "I'm an easy guy to deal with. I'd love to stay in Pittsburgh."

The NHL's collective bargaining agreement forbids the Penguins from signing Malkin to an extension until July 1. Malkin said he expects the extension will be signed "soon" after that date.

Malkin added that his annual salary did not need to top the $8.7 million teammate and Penguins captain Sidney Crosby will average each of the next five seasons. Crosby signed a five-year extension worth $43.5 million last summer that picks up this season.

Neither Penguins general manager Ray Shero nor Malkin's agent, J.P. Barry, could be reached for comment.

Malkin denied various reports he is seeking a deal in the range of the 13-year/$124 million contract signed by Washington's Alexander Ovechkin in January.

He also shrugged off speculation the Penguins will trade him this summer to create salary-cap space necessary to sign several impending free agents, including forwards Marian Hossa and Ryan Malone and defenseman Brooks Orpik.

"Those are just rumors," Malkin said, through an interpreter. "I don't even pay attention to those."

Malkin said that he also tried to avoid criticism cast his way during the Stanley Cup final -- the initial four games of which he was held without a point.

Malkin finished the Stanley Cup playoffs with 22 points in 20 games -- fifth among all players. But he recorded only five points over his final 10 postseason contests, including just three in the Cup final, which the Penguins lost in six games to Detroit.

Illness, Malkin said, was partially to blame for his decline in production.

"I didn't have an injury or anything; I just had a little fever," Malkin said. "I wasn't ready for the final. It was probably just me. I lost my game. At the end of the final I thought I found my touch again, but it was too late."

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