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Crosby relieved Pens core is back: 'We've gotta do something with it'

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Pittsburgh Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby admitted he was nervous watching longtime teammates Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang get so close to the open market this past summer.

"I was sweatin'," Crosby told ESPN's Greg Wyshynski. "You know how it works. The longer it goes, the closer it gets to free agency, the greater the chances are you might want to test it. You're trying to balance being optimistic with being realistic about the fact it was possible (they'd leave)."

Crosby kicked back into competitive mode shortly after Malkin and Letang signed their deals.

"Relieved. And then immediately thinking, 'OK, we've got an opportunity. These guys are staying. And now we've gotta do something with it," he said.

Crosby, Malkin, and Letang have been teammates for 16 seasons. They've qualified for the playoffs each year together and won championships in 2009, 2016, and 2017.

Letang signed a six-year, $36.6-million contract to stick with the Penguins before the free-agent window opened. It looked like Malkin would become a free agent, but the two sides struck a four-year agreement on July 12 worth $6.1 million per season - a significant pay cut from the Russian pivot's previous $9.5 million cap hit.

Although Pittsburgh's star trio is well into their 30s, they remain highly productive.

2021-22 stats

Crosby 68 84 20:01
Malkin 40 40 18:25
Letang 77 67 25:48

The Penguins finished third in the Metropolitan Division with 103 points last season. The club was eliminated in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs at the hands of the New York Rangers after letting a 3-1 series lead slip away.

Pittsburgh opens its 2022-23 campaign on Oct. 13 against the Arizona Coyotes.

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