Evgeni Malkin could sign an incentive-laden one-year deal with a Penguins rival

Update: Evgeni Malkin, in the end, opted not to test free agency and has re-signed with the Penguins.

Original story: The Washington Capitals are Nicklas Backstrom-less and will be without the second-line center for a large portion of next year after the Swede underwent hip resurfacing surgery. Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said that the team would look to fill that hole internally.

…Aim! There’s an intriguing option that the Capitals may consider that is 100 percent headed to free agency: Evgeny Malkin.

The future Hall of Famer decided to test the market on Monday after not feeling wanted by the Penguins. And while the Capitals can’t sign a $9.5 million player if they’re planning for Backstrom to come back this season, there’s a way they could potentially make Malkin work.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman explains in a Market Buzz article:

Where does [Malkin] wish to go? What contract does he want? How much will emotion play into his decisions? Any Cup contender looking for a center has to consider him. That would include longtime rivals, a thought that must make Penguins fans want to vomit. Because he is over 35, he can consider a one-year contract with massive bonuses — that would be attractive to teams, but does it appeal to him?

Malkin, who turns 36 on July 31, could sign a one-year “see how it goes” deal with the Capitals where the team could use achievable performance bonuses as a way to push a possible cap hit down the road to give them flexibility this season.

Per Puckapedia:

Performance Bonuses are paid to players based on their achievements and are not guaranteed. Only certain players are eligible for performance bonuses in their contract:

– Entry-Level Contract Players

-Players that are 35 years or older and sign a 1 year contract

-Players with a minimum of 400 NHL Games Played signing a 1 year contract after having a long-term injury. A long-term injury is defined as a player on Injured Reserve for a minimum of 100 days in the last year.

While performance bonuses count against the salary cap, teams are permitted to exceed the salary cap due to performance bonuses, to a maximum of 7.5% of the Salary Cap.

If a team exceeds the Salary Cap due to performance bonuses, then any amount over the Salary Cap is considered a Bonus Carryover, and counts against the cap in the next season.

With Malkin friends with Ovechkin and the other Capitals’ Russians (except when they speak Russian to him), he might want to play in DC, especially after feeling so disrespected by his longtime team.

Basically, it appears a Reverse MAF situation could be developing and I’m all for this drama.

Headline photo: @e.malkin71geno

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