News broke today that Evgeni Malkin will miss the remainder of the season with a torn ACL and MCL after returning for only one game, last night’s 3-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres.
With both Sidney Crosby and now Malkin out of the lineup the Pittsburgh Penguins could probably use a trade for another offensively gifted player as Marc-Andre Fleury can only carry this team so far. Prior to Malkin returning, the team used rookie Dustin Jeffrey as their top line center, which happened to work well in their recent 4-3 win against the New York Rangers.
However, GM Ray Shero and the Pens did not win a Stanley Cup on the back of a rookie. They won the Cup on the back of their two elite centers– one of which we now know is rendered useless this season.
What will the Pens do? With their cap relief from both Crosby’s LTIR status and an assuredly similar situation with Malkin, the team has room to work with. Will they make some big trades and mortgage part of their future or will they stand pat, hoping a revamped defense coupled with Fleury in his element will be enough.
These questions should be answered between now and the February 28th trade deadline.
For the time being the Pens should remain scoring by committee, turning to Jordan Staal to step up and hoping for guys like Tyler Kennedy, Chris Kunitz, Mike Rupp and Jeffrey to chip in.
On a side note, of the top 10 projected picks this season, eight were forwards. Of those eight forwards, two– Malkin and Parise– are done for the season while Crosby has missed significant playing time. Furthermore of the two projected first round goalies, Roberto Luongo and Ryan Miller, only one has failed to disappoint. Basically 40 percent of the top 10 projected picks have been underwhelming which furthermore reminds us all to be weary of a history of injuries and inconsistency.