Shero likely to be a player at trade deadline

The Penguins aren’t quite ready to acknowledge that Evgeni Malkin won’t play again this season, although that is nothing more than a formality at this point.

Putting him on the Long Term Injured List will free up $8 million or so in salary-cap space (the precise figure changes day to day, but it is Malkin’s $8.7 million cap hit, minus the amount separating the Penguins from the cap ceiling of $59.4 million).
That means general manager Ray Shero might well be busy between now and the NHL trade deadline at 3 p.m. Feb.28.

That wasn’t necessarily the case before Malkin was hurt, because any significant deal Shero would have made then would have involved giving up someone off the major league roster.

Because the Penguins should be reasonably set at center when Sidney Crosby (concussion) and Mark Letestu (knee surgery) return, Shero presumably will focus on trying to find a goal-scoring winger or two.

If precedent is any indication, guys from nonplayoff teams who will be unrestricted free agents this summer figure to get particular attention, because Shero has a history of adding such players — Marian Hossa, Bill Guerin and Alexei Ponikarovsky, for example — at the deadline.

The most intriguing member of that group, at least at the moment, might be PA Parenteau of the New York Islanders. He has 13 goals and 19 assists in 51 games and a salary of just $600,000.

Beyond that, players who meet the above criteria are mostly underachieving, overpaid or both. A sampling, with their full-season cap hits and stats, includes:

• Ottawa right winger Alex Kovalev ($5 million). 11 goals, 12 assists in 47 games.

• Florida left winger Cory Stillman ($3,533,333). Seven goals and 14 assists in 38 games.

• Florida right winger Radek Dvorak ($1.7 million). Six goals and 13 assists in 43 games.

• Florida left winger Chris Higgins ($1.6 million). Nine goals and 10 assists in 39 games.

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