Kukla's Korner ("Move Malkin?") gets the ball rolling by citing two articles ruminating on Evgeni Malkin's future in Pittsburgh. I guess the idea is that Pittsburgh needs to make some changes in order to be a perenniel cup contender instead of whatever they are (the article calls them potentially "one and done" but I don't see that at all; grass/greener etc.). The first is from the Penguins' home paper:
Field offers for Malkin
Crosby and Malkin will be more dominant with a young, skilled wing to grow with. However, given the cap constraints, the only way to land that wing is to move one of them for a package that would upgrade the roster and replenish a system that lacks impact forwards beyond top prospect Eric Tangradi. Staal's development as a Selke Trophy candidate for his defensive work and offensive upside -- at 21, he has produced three 20-goal seasons as a third-liner -- gives the Penguins the option of trading Crosby or Malkin. Staal is a prototype No. 2 center and an emerging dressing-room leader. The Penguins won't trade Crosby, who aside from being team captain is the franchise's face. Malkin, already a scoring champion and playoff MVP at 23, is the guy to shop. Shero should start making calls to his contemporaries, and his first words should be: "Make me an offer for Malkin." It must include a top-line wing, a top-pairing defenseman, two roster players and either two top prospects or two first-round picks. To give up Geno, the Penguins must get the world in return. If they get it, their Cup window won't be limited to three seasons, as it will be with the three-center plan.
So what does that mean to the Kings? A top-line wing (Alexander Frolov, Justin Williams, Ryan Smyth or Dustin Brown -- except Frolov isn't signed, Smyth is too old and Williams is broken into a million pieces -- so, that leaves Brown), a top-pairing defenseman (Rob Scuderi, Drew Doughty, Jack Johnson...that means Johnson), two additional (?) roster players (okay, how about Davis Drewiske and Peter Harrold -- ha ha -- seriously, Drewiske and Stoll) and two top prospects (nah) or two first round picks (uhhhh, maybe not, but I'll play along).
Brown, Johnson, Stoll, Drewiske and 2010 and 2011 1st round picks for Malkin. And in return we get...
Well, for starters, our 2nd line (or 1st line?) center problem would be solved. But we would have some, uh, holes to fill. Yeah, I think I would pass on that deal. Would Lombardi prefer to sign that UFA Russian guy whose name escapes me and who has scored more goals than anyone since 2002, or else maybe that other fellow with the constipated expression frozen on his face who can also play center and whom Deano drafted? I think so. I don't think Lombardi would be willing to part with Brown or Johnson.
But let's look at what the Edmonton Journal is thinking on the same topic:
Malkin, who has four years left on his contract, is hardly excess baggage, but if Shero were to pick up the phone and start canvassing his lodge-brothers he might get what he sorely needs -- two top-six forwards. If he could get two wingers who make about $8 million total that would be less than Malkin's $8.7-million cap hit, and maybe a team would throw in a stocking stuffer, too. A good draft pick or a top-nine, young-20s forward. [...] The Penguins have nobody on the wing who really scares the opposition. [...] I say the Oilers should make a few calls. They've got Ales Hemsky and Dustin Penner, who take up a $8.325-million cap hit this upcoming season and the year after. They could give them Andrew Cogliano as well. OK, none of those players is as good as Malkin, 23, who has 381 points in 309 NHL games. I know that. But Hemsky, 26, and Penner, 27, are in the prime of their careers, and are certainly top-six forwards. And the Penguins need top-flight wingers, in the worst way.
So the Edmonton arm-chair GM is offering Ales Hemsky, Dustin Penner and Andrew Cogliano. What's the Kings' equivalent of that? I guess it's Justin Williams, Jarret Stoll and Dustin Brown. Is that better than the first fake trade? I don't know. I guess so, since it's kind of Williams-in and Johnson-out.
If the Kings were to do the Edmonton Journal version, you would have:
Yes, that's not bad. I have been trading Stoll and Williams in my mind for awhile anyway. Brown? Painful. But. I don't know. I think not. How about this as a counter-offer?
Stoll, Williams, Thomas Hickey and Colten Teubert for Malkin.
Oh how that hurts even to think. I can't believe I typed it. But I think Pitt might actually do it. They already have the captain of one Team Canada, and they could add to that the WJC captain and alt. captain, two incredibly highly regarded blue-chip prospects. Stoll would excel in a true third line center role, and Williams can try not to get hurt so he can score forty goals next to Sidney Crosby.
Maybe I'm dreaming that Pitt would take Williams. I think they would leap at the same deal with Brown instead of Williams, but I think I would balk at that. So what would we look like without Stoll and Williams but keeping Brown (sorry, it's my post, I'm sending Williams to Pitt).
Quick - Bernier
*did I mention I signed Volchenkov as a UFA?
Again, top six center problem solved. Second unit better than first unit, but we won't tell anyone. Before you freak out about Schenn not only playing wing but playing on the wrong side, what I'm imagining is what Murray did with Moller and Handzus before Oscar left for the WJC last season; Moller played offensive zone center but swapped with Handzus for the defensive zone responsibilities. I thought it was brilliant at the time. And this way Handzus can mentor Schenn the way he mentored Simmonds. I'm upset about losing Hickey and Teubert, but otherwise happy. I think Loktionov/Malkin/Brown would out-score whoever/Stoll/Brown by about forty goals. Also, Malkin is mean. Really, I don't see how the Kings would lose even a single game next year.
(I make joke)
I'm sure he'll end up in Anaheim or San Jose.