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NHL Pittsburgh Penguins

Evgeni Malkin Contract Makes Pittsburgh Penguins Team to Beat

Evgeni Malkin

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The end of the 2013 NHL season wasn’t one that the Pittsburgh Penguins ever saw happening as they were swept in the Eastern Conference Finals. The team is just fine as currently constructed and made sure that they kept one of the major pieces with an eight-year extension for Evgeni Malkin late last week.

The question now is if Malkin can remain healthy through the length of this deal.

He is just 26-years old and will turn 27 before next season begins. He had 33 points in 31 games played this year. He had a shoulder injury that limited what he did, but I think we will see a different player when next season begins. The injury should be completely healed and Malkin can go back to his high-flying days of the past.

This is a player who has scored over 100 points in a season on three different occasions and is averaging over a point a game for his career. The team had to make this move hoping for the best.

The Penguins are paying Malkin $9.5 million a season. I think that is a fair price for a player with his ability. I believe that Pittsburgh will be very close to the Stanley Cup yet again next season. The health of Malkin will have a lot to do with that though. If he can stay on the ice for all 82 games, we will be looking at a season where he scores 105-110 points.

Put him together with Sidney Crosby, and the Pens have a combination that will be very hard to stop in Pittsburgh for many, many years to come.

Andy Schmidt is a columnist/writer for RantSports. Follow him on Twitter @ASchmidtSports, like his Facebook page or add him to your network on Google.