Gord Miller Proposes Trading Malkin
According to Miller, the Penguins can't compete with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin making as much money as they do, because it forces the Penguins to surround them with bargain basement players. This is apparently because Ray Shero couldn't get his star players to sign cap friendly contracts like Ken Holland did in Detroit. Because of this, the Penguins must (his opinion, not mine) trade Malkin.
Saying a team has to trade the league's leading scorer (a year after he finished as the No. 2 scorer in the NHL, mind you) is a little much. It's not everyday that you come across players of this caliber, and when you do, it's probably wise to hold onto them for two reasons: 1) they're pretty good players, and 2) it's nearly impossible to get fair value in return.
So, what could the Penguins expect in return for Geno? Well, according to Miller, a winger for Crosby, a No. 2 center to replace Malkin, and "hopefully a pick or a prospect."
Let's break this hypothetical trade down one component at a time:
1) A Winger for Crosby -- SOLD! The Penguins have been trying to find Crosby a winger ever since he came into the league. Instead of finding him his Jari Kurri or Jaromir Jagr, the Penguins have been rolling out a revolving door of Nils Ekman and Pascal Dupuis with little to no success. While it would be nice to acquire the infamous "winger for Crosby," doing so at the expense of Malkin doesn't make the Penguins a better, or deeper, team.
2) A No. 2 center -- You wouldn't need a No. 2 center if you just kept Malkin. Beyond that, Mr. Miller evidently missed the recent news that the Penguins just paid $4 million a year for Jordan Staal (a center) who would, presumably, in the absence of Malkin (or Crosby) elivate to No. 2 center status.
3) "Hopefully" a pick or a prospect -- For some reason, the idea of the Penguins "hopefully" getting a prospect or (not and) a pick as part of a package for the best player in the league is kind of funny. If a general manager, in an effort to acquire Malkin, wasn't willing to give up a "pick or a prospect" I would hope that Shero would be smart enough to hang up the phone.
In comparison to the Penguins current cap situation, and the "problem" they face with Malkin and Crosby, Miller compares the Detroit Red Wings and the contract extensions given to Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk in recent years. Together, the cap hits of Zetterberg and Datsyuk will tie up, roughly, $13 million in cap space over the next five seasons. I say roughly because the exact numbers are pretty much a mystery, and it's a matter of which independent website you trust the most.
The Penguins, on the other hand, have roughly $17 million in Crosby and Malkin over the next five seasons for a difference of $4 million dollars in cap space. There's no way around it, the Red Wings situation with their top two is better than the Penguins situation. Datsyuk and Zetterberg are, quite simply, two of the biggest steals in the NHL right now. But is the difference between the two so crippling to the Penguins that they must deal one of their big two?
What does $4 million get you in the present day free agent market? In using this past offseason as a barometer, it wouldn't even get you Miroslav Satan and Ruslan Fedotenko. Wait ... what's that? Let's go back to the video:
Around the 1:14 mark Miller says the following: "Otherwise, going forward Crosby and Malkin will spend the rest of their careers playing with, no offense, guys like Miroslav Satan and Ruslan Fedoteko, two reclamation products trying to get their careers back on track for bargain basement prices."
So, basically, Gord, the difference between the ideal situation in Detroit, and the dire situation in Pittsburgh, is "a couple of reclamation projects playing for bargain basement prices" (Gord's words, not mine).
Top talents cost money, and if you take a quick look around the league it's not hard to see that teams have a somewhat similar amount of money tied up in their top five or six players for the long-term.
A few examples:
Detroit (six players): Datsyuk, Zetterberg,Valtteri Filppula, Brian Rafalski, Brad Stuart, Niklas Kronwall -- Approximately $28.7 million in cap space through 2012. And, let's not forget that they have intentions of re-signing Marian Hossa or Johan Franzen this offseason. They're not playing for peanuts.
Philadelphia (six players): Daniel Briere, Mike Richards, Simon Gagne, Jeff Carter, Scott Hartnell, Kimmo Timonen -- Approximately $32.9 million in cap space through 2012.
New York Rangers (five players): Chris Drury, Scott Gomez, Wade Redden, Michal Roszival, Henrik Lundqvist -- Approximately $32.6 million in cap space through 2012.
Pittsburgh (six players): Malkin, Crosby, Marc-Andre Fleury, Jordan Staal, Brooks Orpik, Ryan Whitney -- Approximately $34.1 million in cap space through 2013.
Calgary (five players): Jarome Iginla, Daymond Langkow, Dion Phaneuf, Robyn Regehr, Miika Kiprusoff -- Approximately $28 million in cap space through 2012.
Washington: People like Gord Miller are going to defecate the proverbial brick when they see what happens to the Capitals' cap when they try to extend Alexander Semin and Nicklas Backstrom to go along with Alex Ovechkin and his $9 million per year cap hit, not to mention the $5 million that Mike Green already counts against the cap.
1) Ken Holland = Hall of Fame
2) None of these teams are in bad shape in regards to the cap and their top players with the possible exception of the New York Rangers, at least as far as Wade Redden and Michal Roszival are concerned (what were they thinking?)
3) All of these teams are playoff contenders. Playoff contenders have good players. Good players cost money.
When the Penguins acquired Marian Hossa at last season's trade deadline, analysts such as Pierre McGuire started talking about how Pittsburgh can't keep all of these guys and compete, referring to them as "Tampa Bay north," presumably because of the ultimate downfall of the Lightning shortly after their Stanley Cup championship a few years ago. This was a sudden shift from the Pittsburgh is going to be the 1980's Edmonton Oilers reincarnated in the modern day NHL talk that was filling our ears prior to that.
McGuire continued to beat this drum on Sunday during the Penguins-Red Wings game. He spent a lot of time talking about how the Penguins went and traded their depth for Hossa, until Ed Olczyk, taking a break from his bitterness over being fired by the Penguins, finally stepped in and essentially told him to shut up. Mainly because Colby Armstrong and Erik Christensen wouldn't solve the Penguins' problems this season, and that without Hossa, the Penguins wouldn't played in the Stanley Cup Final a season ago. It was awesome, mainly because it was all true.
I still have my concerns over the contracts given to Jordan Staal and Ryan Whitney, and while the Penguins have the most money tied up in their top six for the long-term, it's important to keep in mind that two of them are proving to be yearly competitors for the Art Ross and Hart Trophy's (Malkin and Crosby), and four of them are still under the age of 24, still yet to hit their peak performances in the NHL.