Penguins make the right decision with Malkin

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You do not trade a player like Evgeni Malkin unless you absolutely have to.

You don’t trade him because the salary cap is going down.

You certainly don’t trade him because of one bad playoff series.

We get why there was speculation, but in the end, the Pittsburgh Penguins made the right call.

Malkin is only 26 years old. He’s already won a Stanley Cup. He was the named the MVP of the league last year. He’s scored 100-plus points three times.

Actually, when you put it that way, maybe we don’t get why there was speculation.

With Sidney Crosby, Malkin gives the Penguins the most dangerous one-two center combination in the NHL.

“When you have two world-class players like this, you do everything you can to keep them,” said Pittsburgh general manager Ray Shero.

Not that Malkin is perfect. He’s in no danger of winning the Selke Trophy, for example. But ask the Toronto Maple Leafs how difficult it is to find an elite center outside of the draft. Ask the Calgary Flames.

There’s no precise blueprint to building a Stanley Cup winner, especially in the salary-cap age where a team can’t have everything. But two world-class centers, a stud defenseman, and a great goalie are the four pieces that typically go at the top of the list.

Pittsburgh has two out of four signed long-term now. Depending how you feel about Kris Letang, there may be the potential to lock up a third. The goalie question is a massive one going forward.