Time for Pens to move Malkin?
Evgeni Malkin is often an out-of-this-world talent who can play keepaway with the puck, but after the Pittsburgh Penguins’ shocking ouster by the Montreal Canadiens, it is painfully obvious the Penguins have an overabundance of a good things at centre and a paucity of wingers.
Penguins GM Ray Shero loves his strength down the middle, with Sidney Crosby, Malkin and the best one-two-three punch in the game, and he keeps saying that he doesn’t want to mess with such a good thing, but why couldn’t he move Malkin ?
Crosby, even with his struggles against the Canadiens, is the best centre in the world. Staal, playing on one leg and willing himself back from surgery to repair a ripped tendon in his foot, was the most dangerous Penguins player in their final game against the Habs. He can easily be the No. 2 centre. He can get 60 points a year and shut down the other team’s big guns.
Malkin , who has four years left on his contract, is hardly excess baggage, but if Shero were to pick up the phone and start canvassing his lodge-brothers he might get what he sorely needs — two top-six forwards. If he could get two wingers who make about
$8 million total that would be less than Malkin’s $8.7-million cap hit, and maybe a team would throw in a stocking stuffer, too.
A good draft pick or a top-nine, young-20s forward.
While the Edmonton Oilers had Gretzky and Messier in the glory days, they also had Jari Kurri and Glenn Anderson to give them support, then Esa Tikkanen came along.
The Penguins have nobody on the wing who really scares the opposition. Chris Kunitz , 31 this fall, is, at best, a No. 6 forward and he’s been hurt a lot. Bill Guerin remains a strong leader with his on-ice smarts and nice hands but he’s 40 in November and running out of gas. Pascal Dupuis , 31, is a third-liner masquerading as a top six guy. Alexei Ponikarovsky and Ruslan Fedotenko are unrestricted free-agent wingers and were healthy scratches in the playoffs.
Which brings us to which team should be investigating Malkin . I say the Oilers should make a few calls. They’ve got Ales Hemsky and Dustin Penner , who take up a $8.325-million cap hit this upcoming season and the year after. They could give them Andrew Cogliano as well. OK, none of those players is as good as Malkin , 23, who has 381 points in 309 NHL games. I know that. But Hemsky , 26, and Penner , 27, are in the prime of their careers, and are certainly top-six forwards. And the Penguins need top-flight wingers, in the worst way.