Madden Monday: Bold prediction on Evgeni Malkin's next chapter; thoughts on Kasperi Kapanen's benching

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Tim Benz, The Tribune-Review, Greensburg
·3 min read
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Feb. 22—In this week's "Madden Monday" podcast, Mark Madden of 105.9 The X and TribLive is unyielding in his critique of struggling Penguins center Evgeni Malkin.

"He's just useless," Madden declared. "He has 10 points on the season. That's as many as Teddy Blueger. Teddy Blueger makes $750,000 whereas Geno makes $9.5 million. He makes turnover, after defensive mistake, after flunking Hockey 101."

Malkin's contract expires after the end of next season, so it may be time to start thinking about an extension from the team. But in Madden's opinion, should Malkin keep playing this badly, the team may not want to engage in those conversations. And if he gets much worse and the new Pens brass desires to trade him, Malkin may create another option for himself.

"I think if Geno plays the rest of the season like this and doesn't get a contract extension, I think he goes back home to Russia next year," Madden predicted. "This is me guessing. This is not me saying 'I've talked to somebody' and saying 'Wouldn't this be good?' This is me guessing."

Meanwhile, Sidney Crosby has four years remaining on his contract with the Penguins after 2021. He just played his 1,000th regular-season game. Might he want to keep going beyond the expiration of that deal?

"I think Sid wants to play for a long time," Madden said. "But I don't know how he will adjust when he gets into (Bryan) Trottier territory. When he is not a first-line center anymore. Trots was a third-line guy (after signing in Pittsburgh). But he played a smattering of top-6 center minutes. He was always their fill-in guy in the top 6. But content to be the best third-line center in hockey. How will Sid adjust if that becomes his calling? If you made me bet, Sid at least plays out his current contract."

Then there was the issue of head coach Mike Sullivan's decision to bench Kasperi Kapanen in the third period of Saturday night's win over the New York Islanders.

"Didn't get it. Didn't get it," Madden exclaimed. "Kapanen did not necessarily play well. But then why is Geno even getting a jersey? I mean, who played more? Sam Lafferty? Kapanen with a bullet in his leg would be better than Sam Lafferty."

Mark and I also spend some time examining the Steelers, specifically Kevin Colbert's comments about Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers running game. Then we dive into the looming disaster that is the 2021 Pirates season. And we unpack Gerrit Cole's criticism of "tanking" baseball teams.

Hmm. I wonder who he could be referencing.

Listen: Tim Benz and Mark Madden on the state of the Penguins, including struggling center Evgeni Malkin and the benching Kasperi Kapanen, as well as thoughts on the Steelers and Pirates

Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at tbenz@triblive.com or via Twitter. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless specified otherwise.

OddsMoney LinePoint SpreadTotal Points
Philadelphia
-112+1.5O 6
Pittsburgh
-106-1.5U 6