With labor peace, Shero eyes signing Malkin, Letang
With the NHL lockout over, Penguins general manager Ray Shero and his MVP/two-time scoring champion center Evgeni Malkin finally are allowed to speak with one another.
They had not as of Sunday, but they were speaking the same language.
“We will be hungry to win the (Stanley) Cup,” Malkin said.
“We should be a hungry hockey team,” Shero said.
Both were referring to the Penguins' mistake-marred loss to Philadelphia in Round 1 of the playoffs in April.
The Penguins were favored to win that round and the next three. They won two games.
“We can talk about a Stanley Cup, but first you've got to talk about winning four games,” Shero said.
The Penguins and New York Rangers are considered Stanley Cup favorites according to numerous betting sites, opening usually at 8-1 odds or better.
Shero declined to speak about the labor contract that the NHL and Players' Association agreed to early Sunday morning. He had not seen enough details to assess how it would affect his future roster-building options.
The deal, though, should not impact Shero's biggest plans for this summer.
“I did not anticipate what the salary-cap number would be, but I've said over the years that you had to anticipate the (last labor contract) was ending,” Shero said. “And I wanted to be in a position to sign (captain Sidney) Crosby, Malkin and (defenseman Kris) Letang.”
The Penguins signed Crosby to a 12-year extension worth $104.4 million in July. Malkin and Letang can have their contracts extended beginning July 1.
The labor agreement will afford the Penguins an opportunity to offer Malkin, 26, and Letang, 25, an extra contract year than any club could if those players became unrestricted free agents July 1, 2014.
Malkin could max out at eight years and $102.88 million.
Shero did not say the Penguins would spare no expense to keep both players, but he confirmed that he and Crosby discussed the likelihood that Malkin might become the Penguins' highest paid player in terms of yearly salary.
Shero did say some things about the players he could not speak with or about during the lockout that began Sept. 15:
• On defenseman Paul Martin, fans' whipping boy because of his $5 million annual salary: “He's embarrassed by the year he had. He's promised to be the player we know he is, but it's up to Paul to bounce back.”
• On new third-line center Brandon Sutter, acquired from Carolina as part of the Jordan Staal trade package: “He's got more offense to his game than he's shown, but he kind of slides right into what we're looking to do. He's a tough player with size and good speed, and he was an alternate captain and he's only 23, so he has leadership ability that we like.”
• On the goaltending situation: “We knew (starter) Marc-Andre (Fleury) needed more support from the No. 2 goalie, and he needs more rest. Tomas (Vokoun) gives us an upgrade at that spot. He gives the coaching staff options, and that's what you want. … Depth at the goaltending position is certainly going to be a key with the short season.”
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Ex-Penguins defenseman Niskanen still miffed by coaches’ firings
- Downie, Farnham bringing a much-needed edge to the Penguins
- Penguins’ Sutter, Downie, Greiss being tested for mumps, ruled out
- Minor league report: Other prospects on Penguins’ radar
- Penguins notebook: Memorable night for Pouliot, Trocheck
- Pouliot scores in NHL debut as Penguins tame Panthers
- Fleury’s career-best 6th shutout lifts Penguins over Avalanche in overtime
- Penguins notebook: Players back team doctors in mumps aftermath
- Penguins defenseman Letang having best season in new system
- Penguins continue to thrive, despite spate of ailments
- Penguins star Crosby talks about his experience with mumps