Before I get flamed for writing this, just remember that I'm a long time Penguins fan I always want them to do what's best. I love our three center combination in Pittsburgh, I think it's a sound strategy, but at the same time I also realize it's one of the Penguins' biggest flaws.
Think about it, the Penguins have two centers (Malkin, Crosby) that would be first line centers on any other team. They also have Jordan Staal who would arguably be any other team's second line center.
However, the Penguins suffer in the winger department. I like Chris Kunitz and I like Bill Guerin but these guys are simply not going to help Crosby or Malkin get the Art Ross trophy anytime soon. Think of some of the leading candidates for the Art Ross and tell me they don't have AT THE LEAST, an all-star player on the same line.
Example: Thornton-Heatley, Ovechkin-Backstrom, Sedin-Sedin. Kunitz and Guerin aren't all-stars, neither are Fedotenko or Dupuis. They're great role players, but all-stars they are not.
Now, onto the basis of the article. Personally, I think if the Penguins were to trade Evgeni Malkin, it would have to be an offseason trade. There's alot of options out there, but for some reason Rick Nash seems to fit the "Ray Shero mold" for wingers. He's big, strong, goes hard to the net, has excellent hands, and good skating.
Now, would you solely trade Malkin for Nash? Hell no, Columbus would have to throw in another player and possibly a prospect. This is why this trade would work better in the offseason, so you don't have to dump salaries to make room for all the incoming players to your roster.
So who else would be involved? Well, what about RJ Umberger? He also fits the "Ray Shero mold" for a winger, although he's not nearly as skilled as Nash, he can play all three forward positions. He's great along the boards, he's physical and is best around the net.
One more player would have to be involved in my opinion and that's Mike Commodore, he's a great shot blocker and he hits like a freight train.
I think a complimentary player from the Penguins along with a pick might be necessary, although Malkin is one of the best players in the world, Columbus doesn't want to get ripped off by trading their best defensive defensemen and their top scoring center. Let's add Dupuis and a second round pick to the fray.
Now before you tell me to back to NHL 10, let's do some number crunching:
Rick Nash - $7.8M
RJ Umberger - $3.7M
Mike Commodore - $3.7M
Evgeni Malkin - $8.7M
Dupuis - $1.4M
Second round pick
Nash's salary hit is $900K less than Malkin's, but Umberger's and Commodore's obviously override that. This is why you make it an offseason affair, look at the salary you gain from free agents.
Guerin - $2M
Fedotenko - $1.8M
Gonchar - $5M (Yes, Gonchar. I'll explain)
Eaton - $2M
McKee - $800K
Alright, so I mentioned Gonchar in the list of players that should be let go. Let me explain: Gonchar is aging and it's starting to show, he's slower and is getting more injury prone than ever. I know he means alot to the PP but adding Nash and Umberger would greatly increase our PP, believe it.
All in all, you get about $11.6M plus the extra $1.7 the Penguins have from Nash's cap hit and money previously left under the cap. So now you have $13.3M to dish out. Well, $7.5 of that will go to Umberger and Commodore, $5.8M left. $2.2M of that will go to Kris Letang, $3.6 left now.
Let's say $3M of that goes to free agent defensemen Dennis Seidenberg who's reported to have the Penguins on his list of teams he'd like to go to this trade deadline. Let's say the remaining $600K goes to Ben LoveJoy (I have the Penguins also resigning Matt Cooke for the same amount of money).
So now you have lines that look like this:
Orpik-Commodore (Great shutdown pair)