— The Core–

Sidney Crosby | Future Buzz: Crosby posted his highest point total since the 2017-2018 season and seems primed to have a couple more 80+ point seasons left in him, while maintaining a dominant 200-ft game even as he has entered his mid-30’s + years. What’s fascinating to watch with Crosby is the contract status. Making just $3 million in salary this past season, Crosby has 2 years left on his existing deal and is due just $6 million over the next two seasons. He’s eligible to sign an extension next summer and is among the reasons so many around the league see Pittsburgh’s next hockey operations leader hire being so important. Based on multiple conversations the Penguins previous regime had with the Crosby camp last summer, they were operating under the assumption that Crosby was more likely than not to play out To read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”!

Jake Guentzel | Future Buzz: A major decision looms on Guentzel. Eligible for an 8-year extension this summer, Guentzel’s asking price is fully expected to come in around To read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”!

Evgeni Malkin | Future Buzz: Malkin offensively performed well above expectations this season. 83 points in 82 games, Malkin had his highest point total since 17-18 and it was just Malkin’s second season in 11 years where he’s had a season above 75 points. The most stunning part of Malkin’s season was appearing in 82 games. Who saw that coming. There are two problems for the Penguins moving forward in regards to Malkin. Turning 37 on July 31st, the chances are low of a repeat season statistically and the liability Malkin is 5 vs 5 away from the puck isn’t going to be get any better. A consideration of moving Malkin to the wing as he ages shouldn’t be off the table. At the end of the day this is most likely the best offensive season the Penguins were going to get from Malkin the rest of the way which makes Pittsburgh squandering a playoff spot even more disappointing.

Rickard Rakell | Future Buzz: To read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”!

THE Wildcard Moving Forward –

Bryan Rust | Future Buzz: Rust has five years left on his contract with a $5.1 million cap hit and is owed $6.1 million in salary next season. Turning 31 in May, To read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”!

— Organization see’s Zucker as a must to resign? —

Jason Zucker | Future Buzz: It’s something how everything around Zucker changed in a year. A team-high 27 goals @ 5 vs 5, Zucker who the coaches see as a heart and soul type player, is viewed by those in the organization who currently still have a voice and will have staying power, as a must to resign even before the team has obviously hired a new GM. The injury history, though, and the fact Zucker will be 32 in January brings serious risk to go the 5 To read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”! agent believes Zucker will command from teams this summer.