I want to admit that what I'm about to talk about will vilify me with a lot of Penguin and Malkin fans. Please understand, being a Penguin fan I'm a huge Malkin fan.
I enjoy watching him fly up ice wheeling and dealing, staring in awe as he uncorks a slap shot from the point or high slot. I had a smile the size of the moon when he lifted the cup and was named Conn Smyth winner last season.
That being said I think the Penguins should see if Columbus would give up Rick Nash for him.
Wait,wait wait...don't go grabbing your pitchforks and stop lighting the torches! Please hear me out.
Malkin, the reigning scoring champ, has his stock right now at an all-time high. He commands a salary of $8.7 million for next year, meaning he's secure for a team interested and not a short term addition. He's a potential gamebreaker whenever he comes over the boards and feels like taking over a game.
There lies the problem...those instances are becoming less frequent than those "Geno" admirers would like. He seems to be disinterested in games more often as of late. Rumors are whirling around Pittsburgh that he's becoming tired of the Penguins being Crosby's team. What a great time to see what we can get for him before word gets out about discontent and his stock dips.
Rick Nash of the Blue Jackets is signed for $900,000 less per year then Malkin, but for the next 6 years instead of four. He's the heir to the best power forward title in hockey, Jerome Iginla being the current king. He's everything the Penguins could ask for in a winger on a team that doesn't have a top line winger anywhere on their roster.
And as everyone is witnessing in Vancouver, he has chemistry with Crosby. Such chemistry is a rare thing, teams are blessed to be able to put a dynamic duo out on the ice.
Unfortunately thee Dynamic Duos are becoming a rarity in the NHL. Currently the NHL can offer its fan base Thornton-Heatly in San Jose as the premier duo. Sure the Sedins are having fine seasons, there's a potential duo in Backstrom-Ovechkin in Washington, and Kane-Toews in Chicago, but not much else percolating but a couple hot streaks.
I miss my Gretzsky-Kurris, Hull-Oates, Lemiuex-Jagr, Lindros-Leclair, Trottier-Bossy, even the Russian Five of the '90s Red Wings.
Why ignore the signs? Crosby-Nash could be the next era defining duo. The winger the Penguins have been searching for since Crosby was drafted. No more second and third liners playing up and blowing chance after mind blowing chance.
Imagine what Nash could have done with some of the chances that the aging Bill Guerin has had. If Billy G. was a decade younger this would be moot but he's not, he's at the end of his career...one heck of a leader, but not a first line winger.
Do I believe Malkin for Nash straight up? Not in the slightest, Columbus would have to add something to the deal. At best a first round pick, at worst a couple second or third rounders, but it should be inquired about.
The aforementioned Guerin is likely to retire at the end of this year, Sergei Gonchar and Kris Letangs contracts are up. Letang will require a raise and Gonchar a pay cut, they should balance each other out for next years cap. Ruslan Fedotenko and Pascal Dupuis's contacts are also ending and they should not be resigned to allow Baby Pens, Mark Letestu, Chris Conner, and Eric Tangradi among others room to grow.
The $900,000 that the Penguins would save by the Malkin-Nash trade would double their room space under the cap. That's how strapped they are.
I've heard why Malkin and not Jordan Staal? Staal for Nash would add $1.9 million against the cap and Staal's value isn't that high due to his third line duties. That's another benefit for the Pens. Their third line center, who could be a second line center on most teams and a first on a few, can take Malkin's vacated spot.
Chris Kunitz can be moved to the second line to join Staal and make room for Nash. Let's not forget Kunitz's 8 goals in 13 games when playing with Staal when he was acquired while Crosby was recovering form his ankle injury.
Tyler Kennedy would fit in nicely with those two, leaving the third line to Matt Cooke and Ruslan Fedotenko being anchored by Maxime Talbot or Mike Rupp. Which ever of those two can't elevate his game, can be relegated to the fourth line with Craig Adams and Pascal Dupuis.
After the initial shock of Malkin's name and the word trade in the same sentence wears off, look at the whole picture. Remember, the Pens never would have gotten Ron Francis and Ulf Samuelson without giving up John Cullen and Zarley Zalapsky for their first cup. Keep in mind during their title defense they gave up Mark Recchi and Paul Coffey to acquire Rick Tocchet, Kjell Samuelson and Ken Wregget to win their second straight cup.
Coincidentally, while three quarters of the way through a title defense could the blockbuster trade of a fan favorite that no one wants to talk about be considered? I believe it should, and when thinking about it, remember the feelings when Cullen, Coffey, Recchi, and Zalapsky all left town...and then the elation of watching the flightless birds soar for two straight cups!
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