Keeping Evgeni Malkin is the Penguins' top priority this summer.

General manager Ray Shero will move quickly.

Negotiations between Shero and Malkin's agent, J.P. Barry, will begin this week — and both parties are interested in working on a deal in short order.

Malkin is set to enter the final year of his current contract. He can sign an extension July 5, but after that date control of the situation favors Malkin's representatives.

His current contract, which pays him $8.7 million annually, contains a clause that gives Malkin full control over any movement. It is a clause similar to the one that allowed winger Jarome Iginla to block a trade to Boston this past season.

Malkin's no-movement clause kicks in only for the final year of his deal.

Malkin reiterated Sunday that he wants to sign a long-term contract only with the Penguins. He also wants to leave the club with salary-cap space to maintain a Stanley Cup-contending roster.

Under the new labor contract between the NHL and players' association, Malkin's next contract with the Penguins could max out at $102.88 million over eight years.

However, the new labor deal does not allow cap-friendly, front-loaded deals such as the extension signed by captain Sidney Crosby last summer.

Crosby, who signed for 12 years at $104.4 million, will count only $8.7 million against the cap even though his annual salary over the first nine years is $10.6 million.

Washington's Alex Ovechkin — the only player other than Malkin in this era to have at one time supplanted Crosby as the acknowledged “best in the world” — costs the most annually against the cap at $9.58 million.

Penguins ownership has authorized Shero to spend what is necessary to keep Malkin, who at 26 already has won two scoring titles and MVPs in the regular season and playoffs.