Evgeni Malkin's Season Over:10 Potential Replacements for the Penguins
There is no denying that the recent injury to Evgeni Malkin is a huge blow to the championship hopes of the Pittsburgh Penguins. With Malkin tearing his ACL and MCL it has become clear that he is out for the rest of the season. Malkin's injury, coupled with Sidney Crosby's status being up in the air, means the Penguins have very tough choices to make.
With Malkin and Crosby on Long Term Injured Reserve(LTIR), Pittsburgh has the cap space to pick up any player in the league if they choose. Keep in mind that the Penguins are also hoping to get Crosby back at some point and Jordan Staal is a very talented center who is able to play second line minutes.
Here's a look at 10 potential players to fill the whole for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
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Alex Tanguay of the Calgary Flames is almost a perfect fit for the Pittsburgh Penguins. He can play either center or left wing. His ability to move in and out of the middle makes him a good choice for the Penguins because he can play wing if some of their centers get healthy. Tanguay is more of a passer then a shooter, but he leads all active players in shooting percentage.
Tanguay also has playoff experience, he won a Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche. In the 2000-2001 playoffs Tanguay had 6 goals, and 15 assists for 21 points in 23 games. He also scored twice in game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals, that included the game winner.
Tanguay currently has 14 goals and 28 assists for 42 points in 54 games. The only problem that could keep the Penguins from picking Tanguay is that the Flames are only 1 point out of a playoff spot. If the Flames decide that they could make a run for the playoffs, there might not be any deals made.
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Jason Arnott might not have the scoring touch of Evgeni Malkin but he does play a valuable checking role. Currently playing to the New Jersey Devils, who are sitting outside of the playoff picture, Arnott could be moved for draft picks.
The New Jersey Devils are in a unique situation. When the original Ilya Kovalchuk contract was deemed to be circumvention of the leagues collective bargaining agreement, the Devils were forced to give up a third round pick this year and a first round pick in one of the next four years. The Devils can choose to give up a first rounder in whatever year they choose as long as it's in the next four years.
With the Devils currently in 27th place in the league they most likely won't give up this years first round pick. However, the Devils could be willing to part with a player like Arnott in an effort to stock pile draft picks. This would lead to a quick Devils rebuild and could stand to benefit the Penguins.
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The Pittsburgh Penguins could benefit from another teams downfall. That team is the Ottawa Senators. The Senators are in desperate need of a rebuild. Ottawa is 14th in the Eastern Conference. The Senators have been struggling for a couple of years and need to make a quick turn around.
Mike Fisher is a quality center, so far this season he has posted 14 goals and 10 assists for 24 points in 53 games. Fisher is also solid in the face-off circle winning 48.9 percent of face-offs. Fisher could make for a reliable third line center in the case that Crosby comes back.
If Crosby doesn't make it back Fisher isn't going to burn the Penguins by playing on the second line. This is a deal to watch, Ottawa needs to rebuild and Pittsburgh needs a center. The Penguins could make this move if Ottawa isn't asking too much.
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The Edmonton Oilers have found themselves on the outside of the playoffs in recent years. They have made a little progress this year with drafting Taylor Hall. While the Oilers are on their way to being a better team, the question is when will they be better? Probably more importantly, what will put them over the hump?
The Oilers most likely ask themselves those questions. Should they decide that they need to draft a few more key components, the Penguins could move in to make a deal for Sam Gagner. I don't see Pittsburgh trading away roster players, as that will defeat the purpose of making the trade in the first place.
Sam Gagner is good in the middle and could benefit from some of Pittsburgh's wingers. Putting up decent numbers this year Gagner has produced 33 points in 52 games.
The Oilers hold the key to this trade though, the key is whether they feel they need Gagner for the future or not. Pittsburgh will most likely inquire, as they will most likely inquire with every team.
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Olli Jokinen's scoring production has been down in recent years. He hasn't been putting up the kind of numbers he used to put up while playing for the Florida Panthers. Now as a member of the Calgary Flames Jokinen has accumulated 31 points in 51 games.
Let's not forget that Calgary has traded Jokinen at the deadline once before. Last year we saw Jokinen shipped to the New York Rangers only to be re-signed as a free agent in the off season.
Pittsburgh could be interested in Olli Jokinen, he does have the skill to score big points in this league. Also, playing with some of the skilled wingers on the Penguins roster could do Jokinen well.
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Two things have to happen in order for this deal to get done. First, the Pittsburgh Penguins need to decide what they are in the market for. Are they looking for a scoring center or a checking center to play behind a possible returning Sidney Crosby and the talented Jordan Staal. Second, the Buffalo Sabres need to decide if they are buyers or sellers. Sitting 5 points out of the playoffs there is still a possibility that they make it in.
If Buffalo decides they are sellers, or that they can get along without Rob Niedermayer, and Pittsburgh wants a checking center this could be a match.
Niedermayer isn't going to score you a lot of goals, but he will help shut down the oppositions top lines. The Penguins need to figure out what type of player is a better fit for them down the stretch. Pittsburgh also has to be careful of the asking price. There would be no sense trading with Buffalo if the Sabres decide they can make a good playoff push.
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John Madden is your prototypical checking center. Madden has only scored 15 points in 50 games, though his experience and checking ability could be valuable.
Madden has won 3 Stanley Cup championship, his most recent as a Chicago Blackhawk last season. Madden came up as part of the New Jersey Devils organization, so there is no doubt that he can play defense. He won 2 cups with New Jersey before moving on to Chicago. Now he is a member of the Minnesota Wild.
The Wild aren't far out of a playoff spot, although for the right price they could be willing to part ways with Madden who will become a free agent at the end of the season.
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This one is sure to turn heads, but it isn't out of the realm of possibility. The Colorado Avalanche find themselves sitting in 12th place in the Western Conference. Signing Peter Forsberg shows that they could possibly be making a run. Come the trade deadline the Avalanche will most likely re-evaluate where they are and decide if they are going to make moves.
Peter Forsberg is a veteran center. He has finally found the solution to his foot problem that has been putting his career status up in the air. Reports have surfaced that the Avalanche could trade him should they find themselves still sitting outside of the playoffs at the deadline.
While you don't know what you are going to get with Forsberg, he could be a steal at the deadline if he is even 75% of his former self. The other positive would be that the Penguins could pick him up for cheap. The Avalanche would probably want a 2nd or 3rd round pick for Forsberg.
Don't spend too much time thinking about this one Penguins fans. While it is a possibility, Forsberg still needs to prove that he can play.
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The Florida Panthers have a lot of contracts set to expire. Goalie Tomas Vokoun has been in the center of trade talks, and there are other skaters who could be another teams rental for a playoff run. Marty Reasoner will be a free agent at the end of the season and could find himself a spot with the Penguins.
With 10 goals and 10 assists for 20 points in 52 games, Reasoner isn't a bad stand-in. With things being close for the last place in the east. The Panthers are most likely one of the teams left out.
The Southeast division being surprisingly strong this year could favor the Penguins if Reasoner is their guy. Tampa Bay, Washington, and Carolina are all ahead of the Panthers which hurts their chances more.
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After winning the Stanley Cup last year, the Chicago Blackhawks had to strip their team due to salary cap constraints. They are now in 11th place in the Western Conference and 2 points out of a playoff spot. Now they have to look at the possibilities for making their team better, or packing it in.
Tomas Kopecky could be a player that is moved. In 51 games Kopecky has produced 31 points. He can also play a pretty good chunk of minutes for a team, hovering around the 15 minute mark in his last five games.
Again Kopecky is probably better suited for the best case scenario. A Crosby return would benefit the Penguins if they can have a guy like Kopecky playing on the third line.
All of these players could find them selves as Penguins. Which one will? Only time will tell.