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Pittsburgh all-star centre Malkin expects Penguins' contract extension

PITTSBURGH - All-star centre Evgeni Malkin hopes to work out a new contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins by next month - and he says he won't seek Alex Ovechkin-type money.

"I'm thinking maybe five or six years," Malkin told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "I'm an easy guy to deal with. I'd love to stay in Pittsburgh."

Under terms of the NHL's collective bargaining agreement, Malkin cannot sign an extension until July 1. Malkin, who would enter the third and final year of his entry-level contract next season, hopes to sign "soon" after that date.

Malkin, who helped lead the Penguins to the Stanley Cup final this year, said he is not seeking a deal similar to the US$124-million, 13-year deal signed last season by Ovechkin, the NHL's MVP. Malkin also said his contract doesn't need to top the $43.5-million, five-year extension signed by Penguins star Sidney Crosby last year. That contract begins next season.

Malkin had 22 points in 20 playoff games, but had only five points in his final 10 games and three in Pittsburgh's six-game Stanley Cup final loss to Detroit.

Malkin developed a flu-like condition during the Eastern Conference final against Philadelphia and it carried into the final, when Malkin was not a factor offensively in the Penguins' two series-opening losses in Detroit.

"I didn't have an injury or anything; I just had a little fever," Malkin said. "I wasn't ready for the final. It was probably just me. I lost my game. At the end of the final I thought I found my touch again, but it was too late."

Malkin was chosen Thursday night as the first-team centre on the NHL all-star team, the same spot claimed last season by Crosby. Crosby, the Penguins' captain, missed more than two months of this season with a high ankle sprain and did not make either of the two all-star teams.

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