With a new contract in hand, many milestones are within reach for Evgeni Malkin
Has re-signing franchise cornerstone Evgeni Malkin, as the Penguins did on Tuesday night, guaranteed the team will put on a championship parade on Grant Street in the next four years?
Of course not. The superstars of the team are not getting any younger and besides, that’s not how the NHL works.
But it greatly increased the chances of a few parties being thrown at PPG Paints Arena in the next few seasons.
There are milestones Malkin and his longtime Penguins teammates can reach if they stay reasonably healthy and play their black-and-gold contracts.
• The first milestone on the horizon is probably Malkin’s 1,000th career game. Malkin will enter the season with 981 career games played, second on the franchise’s all-time list behind Sidney Crosby (1,108). If he stays healthy, he’ll hit four figures on Sunday, Nov. 20 in Chicago.
• Kris Letang is third on the team’s all games played list with 941. If he stays healthy and hits the 1,000 game mark, it will put the Penguins trio on a very exclusive list. Only twice before in NHL history have three teammates taken the ice after playing 1,000 games for one franchise and only one franchise in their career. Henri Richard, Jean Béliveau and Claude Provost of the Montreal Canadiens were the first three to do so, completing the trifecta when Provost played his 1,000th game in blue, white and red on March 25, 1970. Then on January 27 the season last, Drew Doughty played his 1,000th game with the Los Angeles Kings, joining Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar at the club.
• It is possible that Malkin will reach another milestone in the franchise before playing his 1,000th game. And this is somewhat doubtful. Malkin is second in Penguins history in penalty minutes with 1,008. It wouldn’t be hard for him to pass Kevin Stevens (1,048) to take the top spot.
• Probably the biggest milestone Malkin could reach under his new contract is the 500-goal mark. He enters the season with 444. At his current rate of 0.45 goals per game, he would reach 500 in 124 more games.
• Malkin will enter the season with 1,146 career points, good for 57th on the NHL’s all-time scoring list. A 55-point season would likely put Malkin in the top 50. Currently, Dino Ciccarelli is 49th in NHL history with 1,200 points. Malkin, however, should be beaten to 1,200 points by Chicago’s Patrick Kane (1,180).
• It will be difficult, if not impossible, for Malkin to climb higher in the Penguins record books in several key statistical categories. He’s third in all-time points (1,146), having already passed Jaromir Jagr (1,079), but trails Crosby (1,409) and Mario Lemieux (1,723). He is also third in goals (444), ahead of Jagr (439) but behind Crosby (517) and Lemieux (690).
• Here is a race that should continue as long as Crosby and Malkin remain teammates. They are tied with Jagr for the franchise’s all-time record for game-winning goals with 78.
• There is a ranking that Malkin will climb whether he stays healthy and productive until his late thirties or not. According to Capfriendly.com, Malkin is fifth all-time in total salary with around $118.7 million earned. By the time his newly signed deal closes, he’ll be in the top three, after Shea Weber ($126.0 million) and Jagr ($128.1 million). He doesn’t have much of a chance, however, of catching the top two — Crosby ($138.3 million) and Washington’s Alex Ovechkin ($137.7 million).