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Penguins to be without Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin to start 2021-22 season

Penguins, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Penguins injuries

The Pittsburgh Penguins will be without their two biggest stars to start the 2021-22 NHL season.

Penguins captain Sidney Crosby was already out six weeks after undergoing wrist surgery on Sept. 8, and that timeline hasn’t changed. Furthermore, Penguins general manager Ron Hextall announced that center Evgeni Malkin will miss the first two months of the upcoming campaign due to the knee surgery he underwent after last season.

Malkin is entering the final season of the eight-year deal he signed in 2013. There hasn’t been much progress on a contract extension, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the 35-year-old hitting free agency in 2022.

The veteran has spent his entire NHL career in Pittsburgh. Malkin was drafted second overall in 2004 and made his NHL debut in 2006, quickly blossoming into one of the best players in the league and forming a dynamic duo with Crosby, who was elected first overall in 2005.

The Penguins have won three Stanley Cups in the Crosby-Malkin era, including two in a row in 2016 and 2017. Pittsburgh hasn’t made it past the second round since, but both of these stars have remained productive into their mid-30s.

Last season was just the second time in his career that Malkin failed to average a point per game, but he still managed 28 points in 33 games despite injury problems. Even with Malkin limited for much of last season, the Penguins won the NHL’s East Division with 77 points. Unfortunately, they suffered a 4-2 playoff series loss to the New York Islanders, losing the last three game of the series after going up 2-1.

It will be tough for Pittsburgh without Crosby and Malkin to start the 2021-22 season, but the captain is making good progress and shouldn’t miss too many regular-season games. Malkin is another story, so the hope is he comes back health and at a high level.