Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma announced Tuesday that the team did not expect forward Evgeni Malkin to play again this season following a knee injury, leaving the Penguins in a bind as to how to salvage their season.
Malkin sustained a torn ACL and MCL last Friday after a collision with defenseman Tyler Meyers during the 2nd period of the team's 3-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres. The injury is the latest blow to a Penguins team that is without star and team captain Sidney Crosby who is out with a concussion and isn't expected to return until March. So what course of action should the Penguins take?
The team is going to have to comb the waiver wire and work the phones to see who they can add in a trade. Fortunately for the Penguins, Malkin's injury occured with enough time before the NHL trade deadline of February 28 for the team to make a move. When Malkin goes onto the long-term injury reserve, the team will be able to acquire a player with a similar cap hit and pay a pro-rated salary for the remainder of the season. Unfortunately, the NHL isn't overflowing with talents like Malkin, and in order to pry away the type of player that could make up a sizable portion of Malkin's production, the team is going to have to give up value in the form of young players and draft picks in return.
Who are some of the players the Penguins could look into acquiring for the stretch run if they hope to remain Stanley Cup contenders?
New Jersey Devils center Jason Arnott is a free-agent after this season, and with the Devils currently going nowhere fast, he's presumably one player that could be had for the right price. Arnott would provide a steady veteran presence for the Penguins and be more than willing to step aside once Sidney Crosby returns.
Another name getting bandied about is New York Islanders forward Matt Moulson even though Moulson signed a three-year, $9.45 million extension with the Islanders last month. The Islanders' committment to Moulson shows they are willing to go into the future with him, and if a team wanted to go after him, that team would have to be willing to give up more than they would normally for a stretch-run pickup.
Calgary Flames forward Alex Tanguay is an intriguing option. He's revitilized his career during his second stint with the Flames, tallying 42 points in 54 games. What makes Tanguay most attractive though is his relatively cheap contract: a scant $1.7 million. If the Pens were to acquire Tanguay, they would have money left over to shore up any other areas of concern.
Toronto Maple Leafs forward Kris Versteeg is young, comes for around $3 million, and very talented. The Leafs received a hard offer for him in December and if the Penguins are going to pursue a trade with their long- and short-term futures in mind, Versteeg might be their best bet.
Edmonton Oilers forward Dustin Penner could be the Penguins' man, too. He's a physical player with a nose for the goal; the sort of player who would slip seamlessly into Dan Bylsma's system.
The Penguins have a plethora of options available to them before the trade deadline arrives, but given the fact that the team wants to win the Cup this season, if a move is made, expect it to come sooner rather than later.