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Penguins Core Heading into a Season of Milestones

The big three are back for the Pittsburgh Penguins, and are all set hit milestones this season.

Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang each signed contract extensions this past week to remain Pittsburgh Penguins for the remainder of their careers. With a difficult summer of negotiations behind them, the two franchise cornerstone players can look forward to a season filled with milestone moments.

The festivities for Sidney Crosby's 1,000th game were heartwarming and joyous, despite taking place in an empty PPG Paints Arena. A pregame video tribute to the captain brought a tear to not only Crosby's eyes but Malkin's as well. 

The arena will presumably be packed this season when Malkin and Letang each hit the 1,000-game mark. Malkin is 19 games away from joining Crosby as the only two Penguins to play 1,000 games with the organization. If he stays healthy, he should reach that milestone on November 20th on the road in Chicago with the following game three days later back in Pittsburgh. 

Letang could join his buddies in that exclusive group in January, as he is 49 games away from 1,000. Assuming he stays healthy, Letang would play game number 1,000 on January 28th on home ice against the San Jose Sharks, the final game before the 2023 NHL All-Star break. 

The 35-year-old defenseman is also closing in on 700 career points. An achievement that would make Letang 26th all-time in points by a defenseman, passing Hall of Famer Chris Pronger. To reach that, Letang would have to record 50 points this year. He has reached that point total in three of the past five seasons, with the two other years shortened due to COVID-19.

While Letang is closing in on a scoring milestone, Malkin is closing in on a very different record. Throughout his 16-year NHL career, Malkin has collected 1,008 penalty minutes which lands him at second all-time in Penguins history behind Kevin Stevens. 

Malkin would need 40 penalty minutes to pass Stevens this season, a mark he has surpassed 12 times in his career. The Russian center was poised to pass Stevens a few years ago but has collected just 24 penalty minutes in each of the past two seasons.

Sidney Crosby is also in line to potentially hit a couple of milestones next season. The more definite of the two is the 900 assist mark. Crosby has been touted as a pass-first playmaker since joining the league in 2005. Sitting at 892 career assists, the first-ballot Hall of Famer is eight away from becoming the 20th player to do so in NHL history.

The second of the two potential Crosby milestones may be a sweat. He is 91 points away from scoring 1,500 in his career. Mario Lemieux is the only player to hit that mark with the Penguins, and Crosby would become just the 15th player in NHL history to do so. That is if he can beat longtime rival Alex Ovechkin to it.

Ovechkin currently has one more point than Crosby throughout his career and is coming off of a year in which he scored 90 points, the exact amount he will need to get to 1,500. 

Supporters of the Penguins were pleased to see that the core of the team was remaining intact, and they will have plenty to celebrate this upcoming season.

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