No, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal are not facing off in a steel cage or a ring, but they are the talk of the Pittsburgh Penguins Fans. The Fact is, the plan all along was to keep Sidney Crosby. Great chance they are not going to be able to keep all 3 and be able to field a good team around them at the same time. So, it comes down to Malkin and Staal, which player will be in the long term plans of the Pittsburgh Penguins?
Evgeni Malkin has put up monster numbers this year and is probably on his way to a Hart Trophy. That said, he disappeared periodically throughout the season and especially in the post season. He finished this season with 50 goals and 59 assists and as mentioned, it was announced today that he is officially a Hart Trophy Finalist. He was second on the team in the playoffs with 3 goals and 8 assists. He was second behind…..Jordan Staal.
Jordan Staal finished this season with 50 points, 25 goals and 25 assists. If you just compare them on numbers, it’s a no-brainer. But you can’t. Jordan plays on the 3rd line, though he spent most of the season on the second line with Crosby out. He plays on the penalty kill, and he could be one of the top 3 penalty killers in the league at his position. He means so much to this team especially on special teams. That his why his value is equal to Evgeni Malkin. I also think that Jordan Staal will get better and better as he is still young and there is time for his game to mature even more than it has. Not that Malkin could not play better, but really he is great now and you are going to get out of him exactly what you have gotten.
Here is the pink elephant in the room that needs to be mentioned. Although Crosby and Malkin are both great, they are not as great together as one would hope. When Crosby is in the lineup, Malkin tends to sit back and play a role somewhere in the backseat. Though, Crosby’s game tends to be very consistent no matter who is in the lineup. Makes you wonder if this team would not be better off without one of them, and if this team as stated wants to tie up Crosby, that could in fact put Malkin on the outside looking in. It would also be good to mention that Staal would be cheaper and would open up room for them to go out and get some more pieces including a shut down defenseman. Just some food for thought as the Post season continues…for everyone else!