Thursday, June 19, 2008

Did Shero Offer Geno to the Kings?

Have you heard this one yet? From The Ottawa Sun:
The Penguins are trying to make a blockbuster move before tomorrow night's NHL draft at Scotiabank Place.

League sources say Pittsburgh GM Ray Shero offered all-star centre Evgeni Malkin to the Kings for the No. 2 overall pick in the draft and a player, possibly centre Mike Cammalleri.

While many NHL executives refused to believe the Penguins would trade the 21-year-old Malkin because he has one year left on his entry-level contract at a bargain $984,000 (all terms US), the indications are that Shero wants to sign winger Marian Hossa before he becomes an unrestricted free agent -- a deal that could cost Pittsburgh upward of $8 million a year.

If the Penguins retained Hossa, signing Malkin next year could be dicey because of salary cap considerations.
[devil's advocate] As unpleasant as this move would be, it would also have its benefits. Releasing Geno now for a top draft pick would give the Pens an opportunity to get another highly skilled and low cost player to save some room in the salary cap. That would free up a significant amount of cash over the next few years that could be used in salaries for guys like Hossa and Marc-Andre Fleury.

The extra cash would also increase the possibilities of retaining Ryan Malone, Brooks Orpik, Jarrko Ruutu, Georges Laraque, and Mark Eaton. (It should be mentioned that, because he seems to be injury prone, we might be able to keep Eaton - who is one helluva defenseman when he's healthy - for a discounted price anyways.) Don't forget that Jordan Staal's entry level contract is up soon, too, and my guess is that he'll be asking his bosses for a substantial raise.

The benefits of keeping Geno are more than obvious, but I can see some benefits to letting him go, too. And I don't see how the Pens have much of a chance at another Stanley Cup run in the immediate future without key players like Bugsy and Orpik. And it's not as if Geno is our franchise player. Add to that the fact that we'd be getting the #2 draft pick this year, and it seems like the deal would actually make some sense. [/devil's advocate]

The part that has me puzzled, though, is that all this comes only days after Geno released a statement he'd be willing to give Shero a rather significant hometown discount (recall that he said he didn't need to exceed or even meet Sid's $8.7 million, 5 year deal). This is why I just find this particular rumor very difficult to believe. I'm not the only one wondering about that - Puck Daddy Greg Wyshynski is confused by the timing of this one, as well:
Perhaps Shero is infatuated with flipping his Russian star for the next Scott Niedermayer or the next Pavel Bure, and saving major coin in the process. Maybe he knows something we don't about Malkin.

But on the surface -- and with the very important [author of the article Bruce] Garrioch grain of salt -- hearing Evgeni Malkin being shopped weeks after declaring he'd give the Penguins a Crosby discount is absolutely stunning if true.
I don't think "stunning" is quite a strong enough word. Just remember - this is still purely rumor and speculation. But even so, I'm curious as to what you all think: If you were forced to make a choice, who would you rather see come back in a Pens sweater next season, Geno or Bugsy & Orpik? Why? (I know - it's like Sophie's Choice for Pens fans.)

Thanks to longtime Friends of The Show Mike @ Japan and Allison Y. for the links! :)

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