PITTSBURGH (AP) - Penguins star center Evgeni Malkin "probably is already ready to go" for the start of next season following recovery from torn ligaments in his right knee, Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said Monday.
Bylsma revealed some good news regarding the team's other former scoring champion, as well.
Malkin, in his native Russia for the summer, is making significant progress in his rehabilitation from February surgery to repair a torn ACL and MCL.
The coach reiterated that Malkin was so far ahead of schedule that he perhaps could have played this spring had the Penguins advanced deeper into the playoffs. Pittsburgh lost in the first round in seven games to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The absence of Malkin and captain Sidney Crosby was clearly evident in the first round, when the Penguins blew a 3-1 series lead to Tampa Bay. Crosby missed the season's second half while suffering from concussion symptoms.
Bylsma said Crosby has been cleared by doctors for twice-per-day, off-ice workouts, just as he normally would at this point of the offseason.