NHL: Why Ryan Malone Won't Make a Difference for Any Team

Chris BouthillierSenior Analyst IJune 28, 2008

His name has been tossed around for the last month, and nobody knows where he'll sign. Rumours said it would be the Columbus Blue Jackets, but right now it looks like Tampa Bay Lightning will get the first crack at inking Malone to a inflated deal.

Ryan Malone skated in 77 games with his hometown Pittsburgh Penguins this season. He tallied 27 goals and completed the year with 51 points, both career bests. He also tied for eighth in playoff scoring with 16 points, as the Penguins lost to the Detroit Red Wings in the finals.

Some people say he will be looking for a deal in the $4 million area, with some analysts saying he could possibly earn as much $5 million. Those are some pretty big numbers—especially in a salary-cap era.

My question is, since when does Ryan Malone hold a $5 million per season value?

Don't get me wrong, I think he's a great second-line player. He's the type of player who will grind and dig until he can no longer stand, and he's a character guy. But isn't the salary cap designed to relegate these guys to taking smaller contracts?

Malone tallied 27 goals this season with either Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin assisting on over 90 percent of the goals. Those are two elite players. Is it realistic to think that he could score over 25 goals a season playing with average players? Not very likely, no.

He's a heart and soul guy who will put everything on the line once he leaps over the boards. Any team in the league would be lucky to have him. But any GM who throws $5 million to him will be regretting it if he barely hits the 20-goal mark or the 50-point plateau.

He's a great fit for 30 teams in the league. But at $5 mill? No way.