NHL

Guess What… Malkin is not going anywhere…

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Wow, what a Monday morning… it is absolutely mind blowing how every conceivable annoyance can find its way into a few hour span that will most likely define my entire week. I won’t bore you with the details of what has been running wild this morning, but I will share this… the Evgeni Malkin trade speculation is an unnecessary addition to the annoyance that has me reaching for my ball peen hammer today.

How this silliness has even grown legs I will never know. The funnier thing is that the fact that the Penguins aren’t considering trading Malkin has become a headline! Thanks for that note from the desk of the obvious!

When it comes to figuring out who we can pin this madness on, we should look no further than John Grigg.

Grigg is the Hockey News writer that initially speculated that the move would be a prudent one for the Penguins to explore this offseason. He looked at a team that was knocked off in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs and decided that they just wouldn’t be able to maintain a competitive balance if they continued to roll with their three center model.

Grigg argued that the Penguins are nothing without their three big centers Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal…

“That Habs’ plan worked to the nth degree and exposed the Pens’ ugly underbelly,” Grigg said in his 5/13/2010 piece for THN.com. “Take away those three guys and there’s basically nothing left up front to scare anyone.”

I think anyone who watches the Penguins on a regular basis would tend to agree that those three big boys are the straw that stirs the Penguins’ proverbial drink…especially when the wings vastly underachieve as they did this season.

However, one second round exit on the heels of two Stanley Cup appearances and an Olympic tournament is no time to make knee jerk reactions. Especially concerning a talented manster like Evgeni Malkin who is less than one year removed from an Art Ross Trophy, Hart Candidacy and a Conn Smythe Trophy win.

Sure, the talented Russian did not come close to playing up to expectations this season, but he is not the type of talent that you give up on after one disappointing season.

What is lost in the whole Grigg article is the fact that the man is not stating a RUMOR… he is looking at a situation with a hockey eye and trying to come up with a plan to get the Penguins some much needed help on the wing. He looked for a team that would consider trading for a player like Malkin and came up with a hockey trade with the Edmonton Oilers that could be intriguing. No basis in fact… no basis in anything other than recesses of his mind.

I completely understood where he was coming from and it made for an interesting read…aside from the fact that he has an aging, overpaid and injury prone Sheldon Souray coming back to the Penguins in his “you be the GM” scenario. It created some water cooler talk and that was all…

Until the local feces stirrers started…

Both of the major newspapers in the city and all of the talk radio shows went “trade Malkin” crazy over the last week and half. Something that has no basis in fact inundated us all! I started getting multiple emails a day asking for an opinion on something that has ZERO chance of happening this year.

I have long explained that the Penguins aren’t going to entertain deals that include players that they consider to be core components of their franchise, at least not right now. They don’t have too! Yes… they need to find a way to get more production from the wing position, but they aren’t going to do it at the expense of one of the most talented players in the league. At least not right now.

It could also be argued that when Malkin plays like Malkin, something he didn’t often do this year, he offsets the need for a 30+ goal winger. It was an abnormally slow production year for the Magnitogorsk native, which can be traced to fatigue in my opinion.

Malkin and the rest of the Penguins played close to 300 hockey games over the past three seasons. That equates to more hockey than any of these youngsters have ever played over that time period in their careers. I say cut them a break…

Have GMs called to discuss Evgeni Malkin with Ray Shero? I would say yes…they would be foolish not too… opposing GMs aren’t doing their jobs if they aren’t asking about the availability of guys like Malkin and Staal. However, Shero is an extremely patient man, one that doesn’t make a move without careful calculation and consideration.  He would take any call, but isn’t going to act on something like moving a core player until he absolutely has too. That day is not upon us…

Will it happen at some point in time? Sure, I could see Shero having to consider some very tough decisions before it is all said and done, but that is several years down the line. If you need to draw comparisons, I think it is fairly obvious that Sidney Crosby is playing Mario Lemieux to Evgeni Malkin’s Jaromir Jagr… we already lived this moment…but it is only the early 90’s for this incarnation, not the early 2000’s if you catch my drift.

The bottom line is that you shouldn’t worry about the team making an ill advised trade for Evgeni Malkin any time soon… Shero has a core of stud players that are all in their early twenties and he is going to live and die with them for at least the next few seasons…doing otherwise would be foolish.

Here are a couple of respected opinions to back me up…

Pierre Lebrun:

There have been rumblings in cyberspace about the Penguins possibly trading Evgeni Malkin in the offseason. There is zero chance of that happening. The real story in Pittsburgh is what the Pens will do with unrestricted free agent-to-be Sergei Gonchar. The Pens want him back, but his age (36) is a factor because of the CBA stipulation that states contracts for players 35 and older count against the salary cap regardless of whether those players retire, etc. So, the Penguins have no interest in doing a deal with any term to it.

Adam Proteau in his Q and A … here is the Question and Answer…

Hey Adam, I was wondering: If the Pens trade Evgeni Malkin, where would he most likely be going and for whom? Also do you see the Oilers in playoff contention next year?
Michael Debinski, Edmonton

Hey Michael,

Not to burst your bubble, but if Penguins GM Ray Shero dealt one of his top two stars in a season when that star (a) played in the Olympics, and (b) had two appearances in the Cup final in the previous two seasons, he should be removed from his position.

In all honesty, I’d expect Jordan Staal to be traded before Malkin. Stranger things have happened, but teams don’t just waive the white flag on prodigious talent – especially when a team’s goaltender is more to blame for an early playoff exit.

Comments

About Brian Metzer

Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Brian Metzer has been covering the Pittsburgh Penguins and National Hockey League since 2004. He is the host of Penguins Live and co-host of PensWeek on the Penguins Radio Network, serves as the Pittsburgh Penguins correspondent for NHL Network Radio on SiriusXM, does similar work for TSN 1050 in Toronto, is a contributing writer for NHL.com, the Beaver County Times and is the primary contributor for this site www.fromthepoint.com.

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8 Comments

  1. everythingpitt

    May 24, 2010 at 10:43 am

    I agree. I don’t see any trades involving the big three. I also don’t blame Fleury for our early demise. I believe the one thing we didn’t have this year was a shutdown pair of defensemen. We have the shutdown defensemen that works well with an offensive-minded defenseman, but not a pair. I think that would have made a big difference. I think letting Gonchar go is a tough, but right choice for the organization. We can use the money to sign a pair or one of the pair of shutdown defenders and help toward depth or more wingers.

  2. Evilpens

    May 24, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    Staal is going to have to go, I’m sorry to all the Staal Bunnies, But with paying your top 2 Centers each 8.7 Mill a year you CAN NOT have your 3rd Line Center making 4 Mill a season, They Need sniping Wingers & at Least 1 if Not 2 Defensive defensemen. Can’t do that all on the money that they have open going into free agency, I Don’t want to trade Staal, But you can replace a 3rd Line Center a Hell of a lot easier & Cheaper than you can get Sniping Wingers

    Case in Point Manny Malhotra is a UFA & he made 700,000 $ this season with the Sharks

  3. Susan

    May 24, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    Silliness is definitely the word, Brian!!

    BTW good job by Bret Michaels last night on the Celebrity Apprentice finale!

  4. mag66

    May 24, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    another great read metz…there is a certain sports writer on the ppg that has the same rumblings. I think Lebrun hit the nail on the head with what are we going to do with sarge…that is the real question. Nice to know there are some journalists (and bloggers) who have their stuff straight.
    also why is everyone on fleurys case about the exit. we were one game away from the conference finals again and yeah he played lousy in the final game. but lets not forget we hit three posts in game six which would have given us the game. Our D was Fleurys biggest problem for most of the year and into the playoffs. So that brings me to my queston…what do you see happening in that regard? will england earn a spot? will sarge stay or go? what do you think?

  5. Walshy

    May 24, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    Aaargghhhhhh,

    all I have time for now….

  6. Glenn

    May 25, 2010 at 9:45 pm

    First, While the team as a whole didn’t play real well in the playoffs Fleury was IMO a big reason the Pens got knocked out. It is deflating to a team when a goalie lets in bad or savable goals in game after game. Fleury while I’m a fan of his was below average this year. As bad as Gonchar looked on the play the Montreal guy dumped the puck in and got it back him and scored Fleury looked as bad letting it in. Secondly, I think the Pens need to leave their big three alone and look at replacing some of the supporting cast as I call them. I think it may be time where we are seeing some of the supporting cast becoming stale. The Pens need to freshen up the lineup a bit. Players to let go or move – Gonchar unless he decides to play defence, his QB’ing the PP is not enough especially for the money he will get. Guerin unless they sign him for one year and for real cheap. Kunitz, 3.75 millon is too much for so little production. People always back him up by saying he does the little things but throwing a few hits is still not enough. I’m not sure what they could do with Kunitz but I have to imagine there is someone out there a little cheaper that can bring the same type game. I like Kunitz just not for that kind of money. Kennedy is a guy that I’m not sure about but would at least think about doing something with as well. And then there’s the obvious Poni and Feds.

  7. Glenn

    May 25, 2010 at 10:47 pm

    Metz, wondering your thought on something I heard on espn 1250 on the Stan and Guy show I believe. They mention someone can’t remember who but with in the hockey world, probably someone in the media. They went on a site called capgeek.com and did a scenerio and it worked out to be under the cap. Not that it would happen or is rumored just wondering what your thoughts on it were. They said if the Pens let Gonch, Cooke and Eaton go they could sign Volchenkov and Holmstrem and be under the cap by around $400,000. I think it would be tempting. The Pens would get their tough stay at home defensive defenceman and the net front presence they need that no one currently can seem to do. I know Holmstrem is up in age I think he’s 37 and maybe not as good as he once was but he can still create havoc in front of the net. If you sign Gonch you’re signing an aging player either way. Your thoughts?

  8. jws66

    May 26, 2010 at 7:36 am

    If you look at history, repeat Stanley Cup Winners are pretty rare. There are several reasons for this, including player movement, injury, fatigue, streaky play, and bad luck. The Pens had all of these factors in play. Trading Malkin now makes little sense, unless the deal was 2 young proven stars for one. That is unlikely to happen. The Fleury “scapegoat” thing is also a bit crazy. Did he play his best this postseason? Absolutely not. He’d tell you the same. I’ll bet Marty Brodeur feels the same way about his 2010 playoff as well. Ken Dryden, Billy Smith, Patrick Roy, Grant Fuhr, Tom Barrasso, et al, have all had playoffs that they would like to forget. It’s why they play the games. Any goaltender can steal a series or two. But over the long haul, there aren’t many in the NHL I’d rather have than Fleury. He has won the Stanley Cup. The Pens have many world-class players, and all were important to last season’s success. Don’t kid yourself to think that they could have won without Marc-Andre. He was a difference maker. The Pens will be fine. History says so.