The Pittsburgh Penguins finished the regular season only one point out of first place in the Eastern Confrence behind the Montreal Canadians. This came as a large surprise to many fans, including people from the 'Burgh because their star player and reigning NHL MVP Sidney Crosby missed one-third of the season with a high right ankle sprain. The entire team rallied around center Evgeni Malkin after Crosby's injury, the entire team except for one player: Ryan Whitney.
Last year Whitney experienced almost the opposite of a sophomore slump. In his second full season he was a +9, scoring 14 goals and 45 assists. Apparently that was enough to convince GM Ray Shero to sign Whitney to a whopping 6 year, 24 million dollar deal over the summer of 2007. Since then Whitney has not only been a deterent for his defensive partner, but he's cost the team countless games over the 2007-2008 season.
Coach Michel Therrien addressed the media on Whitney's poor performance in December of 2007, it seemed to have a stunning affect. Whitney started to gain a surge, start playing defense as though he belongs in the NHL, and even put the puck in the net. However, on March 18, 2008, Whitney showed the entire nation just where that 24 million dollars is going. And it is not being used on defensmen lessons. The Penguins had a substantial 2 goal lead in the 3rd period, when Whitney blindly passed the puck right in front of Ty Conklin to an open Ranger player. The Rangers went on to win that game 5-2, and Whitney had no comment after the game on his poor performance.
So why Whitney you ask? Because the money speaks for itself. The Penguins have seven defensemen. Darryl Sydor is forced to sit out of the playoffs due to Whitney's large contract. There are many decisions GM Ray Shero must make over the summer, these include resigning Marian Hossa, Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal, Ty Conklin, and the clincher is Ryan Malone. Malone is a born Pittsburgher and no one would like to see him leave, however it may be evident that the cap room will not fit to Malone's high standards from coming off of his best season in the NHL so far. So how do we keep Malone in Pittsburgh? That's right, trade Ryan Whitney and his huge contract, along with the turnovers and mishaps that come with him.