Should the Penguins trade Evgeni Malkin?

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Thumbnail image for malkin.jpgIt’s been a couple years since someone brought up the idea of the Penguins trading Evgeni Malkin. On some level, it’s kind of refreshing. Like hearing an old friend make the same terrible joke he used to make when you were still in high school.

This time, John Grigg of The Hockey News brings the concept to the forefront.

Trading Malkin would do a number of things for the Pens. First, it would net Pittsburgh a winger to play with Crosby; God only knows what type of numbers he could put up with something more than an average player to pass the puck to.

Second, it would open up more ice time for Staal; who, although he didn’t put up great numbers, was a beast in the playoffs and looks to be on the verge of becoming a player more akin to older brother Eric than the third line checker he’s been pigeon-holed as.

Also, a Malkin trade frees up cap space; $8.7 million to be exact. That’s a lot of cake. And having Staal’s $4 million as No. 2 center money makes a lot more sense these days. The $8.7-million difference could be spent shoring up a blueline that has just three players signed to it next season.

It’s amazing how much of a difference winning (or losing) can make. Isn’t this a team that made two trips to the Stanley Cup Finals and won one of them? Grigg’s overarching idea that the Penguins would be better off with a scoring winger instead of Malkin doesn’t hold much water when you consider the fact that the Montreal Canadiens shut down a wing-centric offense in the Washington Capitals. Should the Caps and Pens just trade “problems”?

Let me make this plainly clear. The Penguins would be (unpublishable adjective) crazy to trade Malkin. Teams don’t get better when they move star players. Take a look at Grigg’s idea.

Here’s an idea a couple of us came up with. I repeat, an idea we came up with. Not a rumor. Malkin and a fifth round pick to Edmonton for the first overall selection, Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson and Sheldon Souray.

Yuck. While Taylor Hall and another prospect sound appealing, why would Pittsburgh want to waste cap space on an oft-injured, aging and inferior-to-Gonchar type player such as Souray? And keep in mind, this is a relatively rich package in the world of fantasy trades.

Nope, the best idea is to keep your stars and hope that you can make the occasional lucky, cheap free agent moves. Maybe it’s not the perfect way to build a team, but my guess is that all but a handful of NHL teams would trade places with Pittsburgh in a heartbeat.