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Crosby’s signed, but Penguins will have to do this all over again with Malkin next year

Evgeni Malkin

Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins poses after winning the Ted Lindsay Award, the Art Ross Trophy and the Hart Trophy during the 2012 NHL Awards at the Encore Theater at the Wynn Las Vegas on June 20, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (June 19, 2012 - Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America)

If Sidney Crosby is worth a 12-year, $104.4 million deal, then what will Evgeni Malkin get?

Malkin is coming off of a 50-goal, 109-point campaign. He’s not scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent until the summer of 2014.

“The thing with Gino, as reigning MVP of the league, it’s almost like having two kids you’re equally fond of,” Penguins GM Ray Shero told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “We want to keep Gino happy and keep him a Penguin for a long time.”

Malkin has surpassed the century mark in three of his last five seasons and dealt with significant injuries in the other two campaigns. He’s averaged 1.23 points per game over his career compared to Crosby’s 1.40.

Of course, the NHL will have a new CBA this summer. That might come with a reduced salary cap and perhaps some other provisions that might impact Malkin’s next contract. Still, it’s hard to see Malkin agreeing to a deal that pays him much less than Crosby. Currently, the two superstars come with the same cap hit.

Whatever the case, you can bet that the level of speculation and intrigue surrounding Malkin’s contract status in 2013 will rival that of Crosby in 2012.