Penguins Update: Time to Trade Malkin? – Pittsburgh Penguins – PenguinPoop Blog

Penguins Update: Time to Trade Malkin?

There was a time when the thought of trading superstar Evgeni Malkin would’ve seemed so preposterous that it wouldn’t have entered my mind. After all, we’re talking about a Hart Trophy winner and two-time NHL scoring champ—a player of such singular brilliance and magnitude that he’s already carved out a prominent place among pp0111the pantheon of Steel City hockey legends at the tender age of 26.

Nor am I advising that it’s time to make such a radical move … or even that the Penguins should consider anything so drastic. But more and more people are paying lip service to the notion of trading Geno.

The idea first was suggested to me by a hockey buddy last summer. My friend—whose identity I’ll keep to myself—proposed that Pens GM Ray Shero trade the newly crowned MVP instead of Jordan Staal.

Coming off a Lemieux-esque season, Malkin’s value would never be higher. In addition to freeing up tons of cap space, my friend pointed out that dealing the rangy Russian surely would reap a harvest of draft picks and prospects. Such a move also would solve the Pens’ age-old dilemma of finding a scoring winger for Sidney Crosby. With Malkin gone, you simply slip Sid between Geno’s old wingers, Chris Kunitz and James Neal.

There would be other potential pluses. At age 23, Staal was just beginning to mature, not to mention the fact that he possessed skills and attributes (size, reach, defensive acumen) that might serve the Pens better over the long haul.

I listened to my friend’s arguments with half an ear. Yes, they made sense in a way. However, the mere thought of parting with the game’s most dynamic player made me shudder. It became a moot point weeks later when Shero peddled Staal to Carolina for a package that included Brandon Sutter.

Case closed, right? Well, not quite. Malkin, it seems, is having increasing difficulty playing 1A to Crosby’s 1. Long gone are the days of the “Two-Headed Monster,” when the duo blended together as seamlessly as peas and carrots in a fresh pot of Irish stew. The two supernovas often appear to be out of sync when sharing the same patch of ice.

It’s hard to blame Malkin for chaffing under the present circumstances. Last season, he was the toast of the hockey world—the most celebrated player in the game. This year, Sid comes back and Geno’s not even the best player on his team. That would be a tough pill to swallow—emotionally and mentally—for a young man still in his mid-20s.

Ron Francis and Jaromir Jagr experienced a similar roller coaster back in the 1990s. Depending on the health of reigning superstar, Mario Lemieux, Francis repeatedly shifted back and forth between No. 1 and No. 2 center. To the classy old pro’s everlasting credit, he handled the adjustment flawlessly. It’s more difficult to gauge how No. 68 dealt with Mario’s comings and goings, although “Le Magnifique’s” final comeback in 2000 seemed to presage Jagr’s departure.

Again, I’m not suggesting that Shero deal Malkin at the trade deadline. Such a move surely would H-bomb the chemistry on a team that suddenly seems to have a legit shot at the Cup. But down the road? Like any great artist, perhaps it’s time for Geno to have a canvas of his own.

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  1. colin's Gravatar colin
    March 28, 2013 at 11:25 am | Permalink


  2. Bobby Rain's Gravatar Bobby Rain
    March 25, 2013 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    You are Crazy. Pens are in the hunt for cups every year. There is no way Shero breaks up this dynasty.

    • Anonymous's Gravatar Anonymous
      March 25, 2013 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

      Geno trade? That’s just crazy talk.

  3. pen's 4ever's Gravatar pen's 4ever
    March 24, 2013 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    Good article and it really has raised a great point..it may not happen maybe this summer or next season, but if Shero trades Malkin he will bring back the best return 1st round picks, blue chip prospects and a top end player(s). Shero won’t get the same return with Letang. Don’t get me wrong I love GENO, but to keep this Pen’s team a winning team, with trading #71 he brings back future star player’s.

  4. mikewormack's Gravatar mikewormack
    March 24, 2013 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    There is no way Malkin gets traded, I see t Pens paying 10 mil a year. Staal was alright, but it was nice for him against the third line when the focus was on Crosby and Malkin. Plus Malkin benefits greatly with the Pens, most team focus on Crosby leaving arguably the number 2 player in the world against line number two. The core of the Penquins in my view is Crosby, Malkin and Fluery. They can win for the next decade with those three, plus there are a lot of very good pieces around them.

  5. March 23, 2013 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    Coach again… Rick doesn’t write to rile people up, that’s up to the rest of us. He writes insightful pieces and this one makes a lot of good points that I’m sure a lot of fans have been thinking as they’ve seen the contracts that other teams have been giving players.

    And, I think Neal would adapt, sometimes it just takes the finding the right fit and time. Besides, like I said, it’s not like anyone is suggesting we’re going to trade Malkin next week or next season. Neal will have time to play with him.

  6. Steve's Gravatar Steve
    March 23, 2013 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    agree with those who say it should be considered not just done….10M plus is a lot to pay for a guy who can be at the top of the universe and then look like he is on another planet…..depth of gritty players who can play the game and more balance is not the end of the world…those who thinnk keeping him on the bench due to the streak without him or the fact that as Bob Grove has pointed out, that the pens are 22-7 in the last 29 games without him are nuts….BUT those numbers and Geno’s performance right before and right after his Hart season last year would suggest that if the right group of players came back in return this team is quite functional with one mega star and a great supporting cast……i think Tanger is the most valuable player on this team outside of Crosby and his retention is key…..again in a perfect world you keep them all, but putting 10m into Geno is not the no brainer some say if you got back the package i think you could

  7. March 23, 2013 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    Hey Rick, I’m not a fan of the idea whatsoever. That is unless Malkin demands some crazy money when negotiations start this summer. Malkin stays as long as he wants. The Jordan Staal trade was a no brainer. Staal wasn’t worth half what he wanted and when Shero offered him more than he should have Staal left anyway. We got a better player. There is no getting a better player for Malkin. Malkin is the two time Art Ross trophy winner. He is also the playoff MVP the year the Penguins won the Stanley Cup.

    The Penguins have a unique situation. They have the two best players in the league on the same team. Not the two best players when playing together like the Sedin brothers, but two great players that can individually lead the team when the other is down. I’m sure you would not have thought this way when Crosby was out with a concussion. Keep in mind Crosby could get a concussion next game and we would be left with an ordinary team.

    When and if it comes to Letang or Malkin, I trade Letang in a heartbeat before Malkin. The Penguins have stock piled a ridiculous pile of great defensive prospects. Despres looks like a little more ice time and he will be surpassing Letang any day now anyway.

    All being said, if Malkin makes Crosby like concessions on pay and the Penguins keep him right up until they put up his statue beside Crosby and Lemieux’s

    • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
      March 23, 2013 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

      Great comments, Phil.

      Believe me, I’m not advocating trading Geno. But it seems that he becomes a lot less sure of himself when Sid’s in the lineup. It’s almost as if he’s uncertain of where he fits on the team. Kind of understandable, when you think about it …

      I agree with you on Sutter … what an acquisition! I think he’s a much better shooter and passer than Staal. I’d like to see what he could do with a skilled winger (or two).

  8. Shawn's Gravatar Shawn
    March 23, 2013 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    Malkin will be going somewhere, at some point. He’s not retiring here, that’s for sure.

  9. Zack's Gravatar Zack
    March 23, 2013 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Would have to trade Neal too. He’s Robin to Malkins Batman. He’s about as useless as TK out there with no Geno. The thing I’m most interested in is what will become of Sutter when his contracts up. I’d say he’s a better fit than Staal was. Super clutch too.

    • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
      March 23, 2013 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

      I’m pleasantly surprised with Sutter, too. I actually think he’s more skilled offensively than Staal, although maybe not quite as good defensively (no sin in that). I think he’s an excellent acquistion.

  10. mike's Gravatar mike
    March 23, 2013 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    your a idiot

  11. Adam's Gravatar Adam
    March 23, 2013 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    Malkin isn’t going anywhere – there’s no replacing him. Letang is more likely to go – we have people in the pipe to fill that role. This article is just designed to rile people up.

  12. Shawn's Gravatar Shawn
    March 23, 2013 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    ^Trading Malkin may be “stupid”, but if you were the GM who would you try to keep? Truth is, we won’t be able to afford everyone. Someone will have to go. I think Malkin would be the one to go, before Letang. The article does speak a lot of truth. Malkin is very streaky. He only shines when Crosby is on the shelf. He resembles Jagr when Mario was playing. There is a cap, you know….you can’t keep everyone that you want.

  13. taaaaylor's Gravatar taaaaylor
    March 23, 2013 at 12:20 pm | Permalink


  14. Zach Bushmire's Gravatar Zach Bushmire
    March 23, 2013 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    Malkin doesn’t want to be “the guy” I read he wasn’t a fan of being so in Russia during the lockout. Playing 1b makes sense.

  15. Russ+Penguins= Love's Gravatar Russ+Penguins= Love
    March 23, 2013 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    the ony reason they trade staal is because they didnt know if they could resign him

  16. Carolyn's Gravatar Carolyn
    March 23, 2013 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    I stand by what I said.

  17. March 23, 2013 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    This is Coach… I think that Rick raises a lot of good points and he’s not talking about doing it tomorrow. The truth is, Malkin does shine when Crosby is not in the line-up, we no longer have a 1-A and 1-B when both are healthy. He is also streaky and inconsistent, there are sometimes when he seems to be in another universe. Geno has also become undisciplined, taking a lot of stupid penalties at bad times. I’m not turning this into a list of reasons to get rid of Malkin, but you have to remember that management is keeping these things in the back of their mind for when decision time comes around, whenever that may be.

    Crosby is obviously committed to this team, I think he will continue to follow in Mario’s footsteps and retire a Penguin. He is also committed to improving every aspect of his game and works harder than probably any other player, despite all of his talent.

    And, as Shawn points out, it will come down to economics. We live in a cap era. Shero has been able to work wonders so far and a lot of players have taken less to play here. But, we have a lot of top notch talent that will need to be signed (and who knows who we will acquire or how the players in the pipeline will develop).

    • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
      March 23, 2013 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Coach … 🙂

  18. Jani's Gravatar Jani
    March 23, 2013 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Neal can’t do anything without Malkin, he has proved he can’t over and over again!!

  19. Mateusz's Gravatar Mateusz
    March 23, 2013 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    You’ve confused “interesting” with “stupid”.

  20. Shawn's Gravatar Shawn
    March 23, 2013 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    Reality of it all is that Malkin will be traded at some point in his career. Crosby will not be. But when do we do it? When his career is in it’s prime, or later down the road? We won’t be able to afford all of the superstars on our team. Letang will be asking for more, as will Malkin.

  21. Carolyn's Gravatar Carolyn
    March 23, 2013 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    What an insane article that was. First of all, trading Staal was the best thing for all parties involved. Trading Malkin is the stupidest thing I have heard yet and I have been following the Pens since their inception.


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