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Evgeni Malkin gets eight-year contract extension from Penguins

By Adam Gretz | Hockey writer

Evgeni Malkin will be playing in Pittsburgh for the next eight years. (USATSI)
Evgeni Malkin will be playing in Pittsburgh for the next eight years. (USATSI)

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The Pittsburgh Penguins made signing Evgeni Malkin to a new contract extension their top priority.

They certainly moved fast.

The Penguins announced on Thursday that they have agreed to terms with Malkin on an eight-year, $76 million contract extension. The contract begins in 2014-15 and will run through the end of the 2021-22 season.

That comes out to a salary cap hit of $9.5 million, which will make him the second highest paid player in the NHL on a per-year basis, just behind Washington's Alex Ovechkin. That also means his cap hit is slightly larger (again, on a per-year basis) than the $8.7 million teammate Sidney Crosby's latest contract extension is worth, even though Crosby will make more in actual salary.

With Malkin's deal in place, that means the Penguins now have their two franchise players locked up together for the next eight years.

Malkin, 26, has already won two scoring titles, an MVP award, a Stanley Cup, and a Conn Smythe Trophy in his career and has been one of the most productive players in the league since arriving in 2006.

Since the start of the 2006-07 season Malkin is in the top-10 in goals (seventh), assists (seventh), and total points (sixth). His 1.22 point-per-game average is second only to Crosby's 1.45. He's also second in postseason points per game over that stretch (minimum 25 playoff games) at 1.17.

With Malkin now signed Pittsburgh's attention now turns to their group of unrestricted free agents, including forwards Pascal Dupuis and Matt Cooke, and defenseman Kris Letang.

Letang is the big one as his contract is up after next season and as one of the best defenseman in the NHL will be able to command a huge contract. The question is whether or not the Penguins will be able to fit him under the cap with Crosby, Malkin, and James Neal already signed to long-term deals.

The Penguins, as of now, only have three players under contract beyond the 2014-15 season (the aforementioned trio of Crosby, Malkin and Neal) for a combined cap hit of $23.2 million.

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