Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Quick Hits: Trading Evgeni Malkin

Evgeni Malkin is pretty amazing and it maaaaaaay be a bad idea to trade him
The Pittsburgh Penguins lost to the New York Rangers in the 2nd round of the playoffs just minutes ago, so speculation is running rampant about what the Pens should and will do going forward as not to piss away the rest of their time with two of the best centres on the planet. Bob McKenzie suggested that Dan Bylsma is as good as gone, but Darren Pang put in to words what I'm sure was a common sentiment: perhaps it's time to trade Evgeni Malkin.

I can't help but think that this would be a massive overreaction, and simply doom the Penguins to more years of not being able to get back to the Stanley Cup. Tyler Dellow summed up the problem with trading Malkin well:
Having Evgeni Malkin, an elite scorer, on the roster allows the Penguins to have something that few other NHL teams can boast: two elite scoring lines. Subtracting Malkin removes an elite scoring line, so you have to replace that offence with the return in the Malkin trade. Right away, no team is going to give up a piece that can produce offense as well as Malkin can, so you're hoping for volume in return. This means you're weakening your second line to try and shore up your depth.

Let's do some quick back-of-the-envelope math to figure out what Pittsburgh would need for Malkin to make a trade worth their while. For the trade to be worthwhile, the boost in offence provided by the new 3rd line must equal the offence lost through trading Malkin. In the past 3 years, Malkin is 5th in the NHL in on-ice GF/20. Let's say you get a Kyle Turris/Derek Stepan/Logan Couture/Joe Pavelski in return as the centerpiece of a Malkin deal. You're presumably losing 0.29-0.31 goals/20 min from your second line, so that needs to be made up elsewhere. Assuming a straight upgrade on current Brandon Sutter, you're looking at a second Pavelski/Couture/Ryan O'Reilly/Jeff Skinner to even come close to make it worth Pittsburgh's while. If you assume Brandon Sutter is still capable of producing like Carolina Brandon Sutter, this second piece becomes someone like Ryan Getzlaf, John Tavares, or Taylor Hall.

The more volume pieces you trade for, the more you presumably dilute the quality player coming back too. Some team will give you an entire 2nd line for Malkin, but you can find second line quality guys in free agency anyways. Mikhail Grabovski is available this offseason. Ray Shero could sign him to address depth while keeping Evgeni Malkin.

Long in short, Evgeni Malkin is worth two super-premium assets. No team is going to be willing to part with multiple core pieces, especially not to a team who's under the gun to upgrade. Pittsburgh cannot trade Evgeni Malkin and come out ahead. It just doesn't happen. I mean, it's not as if Malkin is a problem anyways:

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