05-16-2010, 02:40 PM
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Re: Should the Pens consider trading Malkin?
Three centers. One Stanley Cup.
Four years into general manager Ray Shero's plan to provide Pittsburgh hockey fans with a perennial contender, there is a numbers crunch.
It's more than the $21.4 million in salary-cap space the Penguins have committed to Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin (each at $8.7 million) and Jordan Staal ($4 million) each of the next three seasons.
That trio has powered the Penguins to 38 playoff wins and one Cup title.
However, the Penguins are also a one-and-done title team. Crosby, Malkin and Staal, who played injured, combined for four goals in a second-round loss to the Canadiens.
One-and-done doesn't sit well with an ownership that spent to the salary-cap ceiling. Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle want to win again next season and for seasons to follow.
There are three steps Shero can take this offseason to get the Penguins back to where they once belonged.
Field offers for Malkin
Crosby and Malkin will be more dominant with a young, skilled wing to grow with.
However, given the cap constraints, the only way to land that wing is to move one of them for a package that would upgrade the roster and replenish a system that lacks impact forwards beyond top prospect Eric Tangradi.
Staal's development as a Selke Trophy candidate for his defensive work and offensive upside -- at 21, he has produced three 20-goal seasons as a third-liner -- gives the Penguins the option of trading Crosby or Malkin. Staal is a prototype No. 2 center and an emerging dressing-room leader.
The Penguins won't trade Crosby, who aside from being team captain is the franchise's face. Malkin, already a scoring champion and playoff MVP at 23, is the guy to shop.
Shero should start making calls to his contemporaries, and his first words should be: "Make me an offer for Malkin." It must include a top-line wing, a top-pairing defenseman, two roster players and either two top prospects or two first-round picks.
To give up Geno, the Penguins must get the world in return. If they get it, their Cup window won't be limited to three seasons, as it will be with the three-center plan
"A man's got to know his limitations."