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Should The Penguins Trade Evgeni Malkin?

To say that Evgeni “Geno” Malkin has been a big part of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ success would be an understatement. Since he was drafted second overall in 2004, he has been wooing and wowing fans everywhere with his play. Despite this, his play has been noticeably deteriorating. Malkin doesn’t have nearly the same hustle he once did. Because of this, fans have called for him to be traded. While this is unlikely and has been proven that he will stay, there is no problem entertaining the thought and what the return may be.

Malkin’s Successful Career

Malkin has had an incredibly illustrious career. Nearly every trophy there is to win in the National Hockey League has been won by Geno as he has captured two Art Ross Trophies, the Ted Lindsay Award, the Hart Memorial Trophy, the Conn Smythe Trophy and the Calder Memorial Trophy. Not only has he won those trophies, but he has been a huge help to the Penguins on their three miraculous Stanley Cup victories.

In the past few years, however, his play has been subpar. Although he puts up an exceptional amount of points, fans call his hustle to attention. As previously mentioned, he doesn’t seem to have the intensity nor the drive he once did. Granted, he is much older than he once was as he will be 35 by the time the next season starts. It has been confirmed that Ron Hextall, general manager to the Pittsburgh Penguins, has been in contact with Geno regarding a contract extension. This means that fans will see him don the black and yellow jersey he has his entire career for at least another season. But what should the Penguins get in return for Geno if they traded him?

Stay In “Win-Now” Mode

The more probable route the Penguins would go is if they went through the “win-now” route. This means that Pittsburgh would likely trade him in return for a player that is already an NHL regular. The question would then be what position does the player in return play in? Because Geno has been the center of the second line, that would be a huge gap the Penguins would have to fill. Because of this, the likely return would be a younger, maybe a less proven center.

Image Courtesy of Bill Wippert/Getty Images

Normally, trading a forward for another forward is just plain dumb. However, when the return is a younger player that doesn’t quite put up the same numbers but still has potential, it could make sense. A player that could make sense is Casey Mittlestadt of the Buffalo Sabres. He was drafted eighth overall in 2017, and hasn’t had much success. However, if Mittlestadt were a member of the Penguins and learned from an experienced center, say Sidney Crosby, he could blossom into a superstar.

This would make the most sense for a few reasons. The Sabres could be very enticed to make this trade because their star-talent is getting fed up. They want to win now, and a very successful Malkin could help with that. Trading Mittlestadt could also make sense because he has been struggling in Buffalo. He hasn’t put up the numbers they have hoped, and some fans want him gone. Because of these factors, this trade could happen.

Trade For Futures

The Penguins could simply trade Malkin for some draft picks. Although this may not be the most entertaining route, it could make sense. The “big three” core is aging, and could very well run out of juice soon. By trading for draft picks, they are making sure the inevitable rebuild could be quick and painless. However, this route is unlikely mostly because of Crosby. He has shown that he can still perform at an elite level, so wasting the last few years of his career wouldn’t make sense.

Image Courtesy of Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Again, this is all purely speculation. Malkin will undoubtedly make a return for next season, and possibly the season after that. This is all just a big “what if.” If the Penguins were to trade Geno, the likely route would be to stay in the “win-now” mode. Trading for a young NHL regular would make the most sense. However, they could go the unlikely route and go into a rebuild by trading him away for draft picks. Either way, a Malkin trade would yield interesting results that could determine the fate of the Penguins for years to come.

 

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