Jordan Staal is the new sexy. Since the idea was first kicked about that he might need to be moved to make it possible for the Penguins to extend Sidney Crosby and Evgani Malkin. But let’s not get excited over nothing. The salary cap could rise significantly over the next two off seasons. The Devils have restructured their ownership. The Stars have been bought, the Canes look like they’ll be opening their purse for company for Eric Staal. The Sabres are now spending to the Cap, and the Blues could have new ownership. On top of that the Coyotes are of course (again) near new ownership, and the Panthers and Lightning, not to mention the Winnipeg Jets have committed stable ownership and management.
If the salary cap goes up even four million in the next two years, the Penguins have all the space they need to keep all three. They can even keep other top components like Kris “Submarine” Letang, Zbynek Michalek, and some others. All of the current defense is 31 or younger, James Neal may have gotten a new deal this year but other players will need deals or to be replaced in the next two or three years as well.
Then there is the question of health. In the last two seasons, Jordan Staal has averaged 52 games played. That’s not great. His first four seasons he only missed one game, but the drop off is alarming. Then there is the health of his teammates. Crosby has missed extensive time. In three of his seven seasons Crosby has played less than sixty games, this season he played just twenty two games and with multiple concussions the question of how many more hits his career survives is always on the table. Evgani Malkin’s had injuries to both knees, his shoulder, feet and not played every game since the 08-09 season. Knee’s in particular don’t get better with time and wear.
The question has to be asked if it’s to the best option for trade is Jordan Staal. With the injuries to Malkin and Crosby he’s spent time as the number one and number two center. He’s also spent a reasonable amount of time at wing. As an excellent two way presence on a team decidedly lacking in a history of attention to defensive niceties, he might be more valuable than any return that could be reasonably acquired. Both Malkin and Crosby could be traded for an almost unlimited return. Using the trade of RFA 36 goal scorer Phil Kessel as a bench mark, or even Ilya Kovalchuk, the return for either star could be enormous and pay dividends for a decade or more.