Penguins' Malkin nearing return, 'not thinking about money' or contract

Pittsburgh Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin says that the last six months of recovery have been tough, but that he expects to be back and better than ever soon. Courtesy: PensTV

In the process of working back from a knee injury and off-season surgery, Pittsburgh Penguins centre Evgeni Malkin is focussed on getting back on the ice, and not on his current contract status.

Nearing his return and season debut, Malkin ruled himself out for Sunday's contest against the San Jose Sharks, but hopes to be back within the next week-and-a-half.

"Not Sunday for sure," Malkin told the media on Wednesday. "I can't say 100 per cent when I'll be back, but I hope like next week, maybe 10 days."

As a pending unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2022, Malkin is not concentrating on his contract nor the dollar figure that comes with it.

"No, I'm not thinking about my contract, I'm not thinking about money. I'm a pretty rich guy," he joked.

Malkin remains set on returning to his team, and wants to reach the same level of play he was at pre-injury.

"I've had a tough half-year and I want back my level of play," said Malkin. "Again, we have a great group, we have great coaches, I miss hockey so much, I want to enjoy it every game. I know it won't be easy."

The 35-year-old is confident he will be able to get back, and believes he's still got some left in the tank.

"I want to play maybe like three to four years more, and I don’t want to worry every game about my knee," said Malkin. "Now my knee is like 200 per cent stronger."

The 2009 Conn Smythe Trophy winner sees a silver lining in the situation.

"One positive thing is the last time I had a knee injury I came back and had my best year," Malkin said in reference to his ACL and MCL tear in March 2011. He went on to win the Hart and Art Ross Trophies in the following 2011-12 season.

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