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Evgeni Malkin is out for the season with a knee injury. This is terrible news for a pro hockey player in the middle of his most productive years. On the other hand, a new opportunity has just popped up for the Oilers. You see, the way that the cap system works, is that if a player is put on long term injured reserve, his team is allowed cap relief up to his total salary. Effectively speaking, the Pittsburgh Penguins were up against the cap and now have Malkin's 8.7 million in cap space available for the rest of the year.
Pittsburgh currently sits second in their division to Philly and second in points in the east with 72. Anytime you have Sidney Crosby on your team you are a threat to win the Stanley Cup. Ray Shero has a history of making moves to improve his team at the deadline.Pittsburgh is now in need of a top 6 winger. Preferably one that can fill the holes on either side of Sid that the Penguins have for ever been searching for.
Before I go any further, I want to clarify my position here. What the Oilers really need going forward are veteran, outscoring players on good contracts. DP and Hemsky are exacty that. The problem is there is the distinct possibility of losing one or both of them to UFA at the end of next year. If Tambellini doesn't move them this year, and can't get them resigned next year, their worth on the market will be significantly less at next years deadline. According to the CBA, a contract renewal can't occur until the last year of the existing contract. So, there is no way of getting anyones name on a contract right now. This is the part that regular fan has no insight into. Will Penner and Hemsky be willing to resign next year? If the answer is yes, then the rest of this post is pretty much a moo point. It's also worth taking into consideration the ages of the players we are talking about. By the time Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Magnus Paajarvi and Linus Omark and the other prospects that are bubbling under are ready to contend in a few years, Penner and Hemsky will be on the downside of their careers. The injury to Malkin has opened up an interesting window that needs to be explored by both GM's.
Now let's talk about return.
Pittsburghs first round pick is likely in the 25-30 range. Edmonton already has a pick at 31. However, the Penguins have some very nice looking prospects.
The ideal return here is Jordan Staal. It's not happening. Teams with Stanley Cup aspirations don't trade away their second best forward. Especially if he is only 22 and signed to a nice contract. Here are some other interesting players.
Eric Tangradi (2nd round 2007 42nd overall) is a 20 year old 6'4" 230lb LW with a mean streak (seen here ragdolling Radko Gudas ) who is putting up nice numbers in the A and has had 11 games with the big club this year. He projects out as a 20-25 goal guy who takes the body and drops the gloves. In other words, he is JFJ in Tambellini's world.
Simon Despres ( 1st round - 2009 30th overall)is a 6'4" 225lb defenseman who is killing the Q right now. This is not a tremendous accomplishment for someone 19 years old, but still a big body D man putting up a point per game is pretty attractive.
Beau Bennett ( 1st round - 2010 20th overall) is a scorer who is having a nice first season at the NCAA level.
In the end, I don't want to see the Oilers trade away either Penner or Hemsky. However, Ray Shero could come up with a very attractive package involving some of these prospects and picks that would certainly be worth another 100 or so exciting last place hockey games from one or both of them.