I thought it is something else to think that Evgeni Malkin could possibly leave Pittsburgh, but a trade rumour circulating the web today suggests that the Penguins are talking to the Thrashers to pull off yet another blockbuster deal around the Trade Deadline. Going the other way, the suggestions point towards Ilya Kovalchuk, a potential unrestricted free agent in the summer.
Malkin will be making will start his long-term contract extension next year, where he'll be making $8.7 million per year for five seasons. That really does pigeon hole the Penguins, as they already have a number of players, including Sidney Crosby, who will be making $3.5 million or more. The Penguins could use a little reprieve and they could certainly hope Kovalchuk could be helpful when negotiating his new contract. It really does look as though the Penguins will choose Crosby for the long-term and the addition of Kovalchuk will give him a top 3 winger to play with. Very intriguing.
Kovalchuk has been the face of the Thrashers franchise since he was drafted and he hasn't been able to bring the Thrashers to the promised land. Sure, he hasn't had a lot of help, but the decision could be made that he isn't the best forward building block to go from in Atlanta. The Thrashers have cap space to spare and the idea of taking on Malkin's $8.7 million doesn't sound too bad when you get the top scorer in the NHL in return. Malkin sure hasn't proven himself worthy by any stretch of the imagination to be a franchise player, since he has a lot of help to shoulder the load with Crosby. In Atlanta, he would be leaned upon for that kind of leadership.
I like the prospect of this deal going down, with little pieces added to it for flavour. This also should raise the profile of Jordan Staal, who will then take on the second line centre role. That's good news for his fantasy value. Kovalchuk could very well return to his 50-goal form with a centre like Crosby and Malkin could move away from the shadow that Crosby still has in Pittsburgh. I think it makes sense on several levels and I would really be curious to see what the end result is.