Following a tumultuous Stanley Cup Finals, Evgeni Malkin seemed tired. Maybe a bit unhappy, even.
He might be tired of being in Sidney Crosby's shadow. He might be homesick. The big, shy Russian has been rumored to be so unhappy in Pittsburgh that he might want out. Out to Russia. Out to a new team. Just out.
Yet in the last week, Malkin has publicly stated he is happy in Pittsburgh, citing that an extension was almost in place for "four years, maybe five." Yet the rumors persist, and the Los Angeles Kings are the team most mentioned.
One rumour says Malkin for Mike Cammilleri and the No. 2 overall pick in today's draft. Another says Malkin for centerman Anze Kopitar and winger Dustin Brown for the Russian pivot.
Why, you say? Rumors say the Pens are going to offer a lucrative contract to winger Marian Hossa, who proved his worth with a strong playoff performance alongside Crosby.
Even the extension talk is being perceived as a front, a calm before the trading storm.
Trading Malkin, in my opinion the third-best player in the game, makes absolutely no sense. Let's think about this for a minute:
First of all, it doesn't make sense to trade one of your best players, regardless of the situation. Malkin not only kept the Penguins in the hunt for both the playoffs and division title in Crosby's absence, he kept them winning. Why would you trade a Top Five guy?
Malkin's name isn't quite as valuable as Crosby, but he is a recognizable commodity. In a league that has trouble finding those, why would you trade a marketable player like that?
Secondly, if it really is an issue of "odd man out" between him and Hossa, with all due respect to Hossa, why wouldn't you keep Malkin? They're going to command about the same money, but the difference is Malkin is a game-breaker, an elite player who is just 21 years old. Hossa is hitting the wrong side of 30 and isn't the player Malkin is.
Play Malkin on the wing on one of the top two lines to help him stay fresh, much like Peter Forsberg did towards the end of his run with the Avalanche (the first time). Keep Staal as the No. 2 center with Malkin flanking him. You really need to fill the third and fourth lines with role players and bangers, anyways.
As far as the cap issue is concerned, I really don't think it could be all that big of an issue. They re-signed Marc-Andre Fleury already and should lock up Brooks Orpik.
While it hurts, letting Ryan Malone walk would be smart, because he isn't worth the $4.5 million to $5.5 million that someone will throw at him.
Hossa was a rental player when they acquired him and letting him go wouldn't crush the team. Using the money saved there, the team could make long term offers to Malkin and Staal.
Lastly, if the Pens really were interested in trading Malkin, the above mentioned offers are incredibly sub-par. Kings fans, in this instance, have made cases that the Kopitar and Brown deal would be too much. Really? Last I checked, neither one of those guys has the ability Malkin does, nor the marketability.
If the Pens are going to deal Malkin, they better get a knockout offer. In the Kings case, anything less than Kopitar, the no. 2 pick in this year's draft and either Jack Johnson or Thomas Hickey.
Regardless, Malkin won't be moved. It doesn't make much sense to anyone except the team who could potentially receive him. Ray Shero is a smart man. And smart men hold on to the pieces that got them there.