Why the Penguins should go after Ryan Malone
As trade deadline steadily approaches, rumors of who is and who is not available continue to swirl. The Penguins have been rumored to be scouting players such as Devin Setoguchi, Cal Clutterbuck, Nikolai Kulemin, Jarome Iginla and Matt Cullen. While each of those players bring a certain aspect to the game that would be welcomed in Pittsburgh, they aren’t exactly what the team needs.
After playing nearly half the season, Tampa Bay is 11th in the conference. Not exactly where they expected to be with a line up that includes Stamkos, Lecavalier and St. Louis. The team is in need of a bit of an overhaul (not a rebuild) and one player that could be expendable is Ryan Malone. His play has dropped a little over the last couple seasons and he hasn’t produced like he had since playing alongside Evgeni Malkin in 2008.
Tampa should be looking for a bit of an overhaul and bringing in some young talent could help in the long run.
Acquiring a highly regarded defensive prospect in Dumoulin or Pouliot from Pittsburgh could help take some of the pressure off of Victor Hedman for seasons to come. Dropping Malone’s $4.5 million cap hit could also free up some space to add a player or a top veteran in the upcoming Free Agency to play along side Stamkos, as Vinnie and Marty are on the decline.
In Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh needs a big body who is capable of standing in front of the net and has the ability to use his body along the boards. Malone (who was drafted by the Penguins 1999) played four seasons with the Penguins before leaving via free agency and signing with the Lightning. During that time he put up 43, 44, 31 and 51 points respectively, including playing primarily on Evgeni Malkin’s line in his final season.
Born in Pittsburgh, it was a dream of Malone’s to play on his hometown team and make an impact. The Penguins organization held very high remarks towards Malone and it was unfortunate that they were unable to re-sign him after losing in the Cup Finals in 2008.
Malone could bring a lot to the Penguins, at 6′ 4” and 213 lbs his size will be an upgrade in the top-six. His ability to get into the dirty areas and screen the goalie is an asset that the Penguins are desparately in need of. A cap hit of $4.5 million is not too bad for the Penguins to absorb, especially if he and Malkin can revive the chemistry they had and bring Malone back to a 50 point pace.
So far this season, Malone has 4 goals and 5 points in 10 games. Unfortunately, he has been injured for half of the season but appears to be making progress and looks to get back in the line up within two weeks. But, you should expect injuries with a player who plays the hard-hitting, gritty game that Malone brings.
Would Iginla be nice? Yes, he would.
Unfortunately he makes $7-million a year and is a UFA this summer. He may be looking at a pay decrease but how much? Furthermore, could the Penguins even afford him assets-wise? Malone could bring just as much, if not more strength, than Iginla at a little over half the price. This would also leave Ray Shero with some money to try and add a top four defender as well.
Keep in mind it is unknown if Malone is available or if Steve Yzerman is looking to shake things up. Either way, Malone is a player I believe Shero should actively pursue.
* Note he does have a no movement clause through this season as well as a no trade clause through 2015. Needless to say he would have to agree to the move.
** Based on my research, it appears Yzerman is looking to move some pieces around and Malone’s name has been mentioned. Vancouver, Detroit, L.A. and Toronto appear to be in the hunt for his services. Hopefully Pittsurgh is added to that list. It does appear that the Bolts want a #1 Goalie. Zatkoff who plays in WIlkes-Barre is a possiblity, but may be too young and inexperienced for Tampa’s liking. Should The Penguins consider moving Vokoun and promoting Zatkoff?
What do you think?
You can Follow Robert via Twitter @Rslavi_HTPens
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