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Thread: Evgeni Malkin Is Renergized & Focused As Pens Make Tough Choices

      
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    Default Evgeni Malkin Is Renergized & Focused As Pens Make Tough Choices

    Madden: Shero facing tough decisions

    Posted: Sunday, June 5, 2011 11:30 pm | Updated: 11:30 pm, Sun Jun 5, 2011.
    Mark Madden Times sports correspondent


    This is a difficult off-season for Penguins General Manager Ray Shero.

    Shero is likely considering two plans for 2011-12: One with Sidney Crosby, one without. The plans are so different, though, that Shero must commit to one. Given salary cap ramifications, Shero must assume Crosby will play.

    Crosby has been cleared to work out. Thatís a long way from being cleared for contact. But thereís not much hitting in July and August.

    If Crosbyís problems reoccur, the Penguins will again be forced to scramble. Thatís going to be tougher the second time around, even with Evgeni Malkin. Adrenaline isnít bottomless.

    Malkin is fine. His rehab after knee surgery has gone phenomenally. Had the Penguins progressed to the conference finals, Malkin might have played.

    Malkin reportedly has a new mental outlook. A refreshed attitude. Good, because the Penguins need 100 points from Malkin. No less, preferably more. Malkin must be the player he was in the 2009 playoffs but not since.

    Malkinís father, Vladimir, told a Russian publication, ďEvgeni is seriously focused. I am not even sure he will vacation somewhere. He wants to approach the start of the NHL season in top form.Ē Sources close to Malkin say his goal for the upcoming campaign is the NHL scoring title.

    Malkin will be ready for training camp. Dustin Jeffrey ó assuming he signs; heís a restricted free agent ó wonít be. Heíll be ready for hockey activity by the start of October, maybe back in the lineup by November.

    So, up front, the Penguins have ó for certain - Malkin, Matt Cooke, Nick Johnson, Chris Kunitz, Mark Letestu, James Neal, Jordan Staal and Eric Tangradi. That isnít much. Johnson will be a low-paid fourth-liner. Tangradi has to play. Thatís good. Give him decent linemates and some rhythm.

    Where does Shero go from there? He has $55 million committed to 17 players. Depending where the cap falls, he can spend about $5 mil more.

    Tyler Kennedy wants too much. Max Talbot will get more elsewhere. Pascal Dupuis seems 50/50. Mike Rupp will return.

    There just arenít many quality forwards available in free agency, and certainly no sleepers at an affordable price.

    A relatively big trade wouldnít be shocking. The Penguins have depth on defense, especially with Simon Despres, the teamís first-round draft choice in 2009, ready for prime time. Perhaps Shero moves Paul Martin, who makes about a million per year too much and disappointed this past season.

    What if Malkin underachieves again? What if Staalís production stays flat? Iíve always been told Shero wonít trade a center. But never is a long time. If any center moves to wing, it should be Staal. When Staal had a career-high 29 goals as a rookie in 2006-07, he played wing, Malkin center.

    It will be sad when Talbot leaves, but donít get too attached to players. Then-GM Craig Patrick showed brass when he traded Paul Coffey and Mark Recchi from the team that won the Stanley Cup in 1991. Patrick lost the trade in terms of raw talent, but Rick Tocchet and Kjell Samuelsson were better fits. The Penguins won again in Ď92.

    Youíve got to think about trades and signings in terms of fit. Thatís the biggest challenge facing Shero: Developing or signing wingers who mesh well, thus achieving beyond their talent level.

    The Penguins can negotiate a new contract with Crosby as of July 1, 2012. The NHL CBA expires thereabouts. Thereís talk the new CBA may have a maximum salary, one less than the $8.7 mil Crosby currently makes. It would behoove the Penguins and Crosby to strike an extremely lengthy, extremely lucrative deal before a new CBA forces a pay cut.

    One wonders: If Crosby would max out at a certain figure anywhere he plays, would Pittsburgh still be his first choice?
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    Default Re: Evgeni Malkin Is Renergized & Focused As Pens Make Tough Choices

    It's very rare when you come across a good Madden article. This is one of those times. A lot of good stuff in here.

    1. The news about Malkin being re-energized, focused, not vacationing, wanting to win the scoring title.

    2. Trading Paul Martin. Great idea especially with Simon Depres who is ready. Hell he was ready last season. Paul Martin was alright, but not $5 million per season alright. That would clear up a lot of money that the Pens could use.

    I'm going to assume that the Pens really want to see through the Staal/Malkin experiment that never got a chance due to injuries last season. I'm not optimistic due to Staal's inability quickly to center Neal and Kovalev but I understand wanting to see if it works. If it doesn't, you know Staal would be moved back to 3rd line center and Malkin back to 2nd line center with someone like Letestu or what not on his winger along with say Eric Tangradi. If Staal has to move back to the 3rd line he has to get traded.

    3. The maxplayer salary part about the 2012 CBA was interesting. I didn't know about that but isn't there sort of a max salary now for teams as a player can't exceed a certain percentage of the teams payroll? I'm thinking that this league max would help prevent the Iilya Kovalchuk type contracts and is an answer to these crappy long term contracts that teams are using as a loophole to pay players??
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    Default Re: Evgeni Malkin Is Renergized & Focused As Pens Make Tough Choices

    Good article.

    Here's the main problem(and I'd HATE to be Ray Shero right now) what If Sid isn't the same player anymore...........and given the severity of the injury,I doubt he will be.

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    Default Re: Evgeni Malkin Is Renergized & Focused As Pens Make Tough Choices

    Yeah, Madden pretty much recapped what we've been talking about on this forum.

    Trading Martin requires a sucker.... not sure they'll find one. Until Crosby is healthy, I'd assume Staal will continue at center. IMO, the odds of Crosby being as good as he was this season, next season... aren't very good. He's missed a lot of playing/practice time. That would effect anyone, let alone someone who relied heavily on work ethic and training to get where he was before the injury.

    Time for Malkin, Staal, Kunitz, Tangradi, Neal and MAF to step up!!! As much as we all love Sid, I wouldn't mind seeing Geno take his game to a superstar level... where he and OV are the faces of he league! (Yeah not a pretty picture ) Geno certainly has the size and talent. Maybe Sids injury is the motivation he needs to get there.

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