After yet another unceremonious exit in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs to our arch-nemesis Philadelphia Flyers, the Pittsburgh Penguins will now look ahead to the offseason.
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With an expiring Collective Bargaining Agreement looming, there is uncertainty in terms of how the Penguins will be able to retain Crosby, Malkin and Staal along with guys like James Neal, Marc-Andre Fleury, Brooks Orpik and Kris Letang currently locked up for a time.
Keeping the three centers will prove to be a difficult task, even inside of the current CBA. If the players' association wins the negotiations, that will make it an even more arduous task to keep the most dangerous team down the middle in tact.
Penguins GM Ray Shero did express some concerns after the playoff loss in terms of being able to keep Crosby, Malkin, and Staal. Via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
Common sense, I’d love to keep all three of them. They’re great players. They’re not even in their prime yet. But we’ll have to wait to see. We’ve had these players for a number of years now. We had success for a couple of years now. Went to the finals, won the (Stanley) Cup. But at the same time, there’s a salary cap in place now. And when these guys get into the second and third contracts, you might run into problems trying to keep all three. I’m certainly on record, I’d love to keep all three but in a practical world with a salary cap, that remains to be seen.
So what does Shero and the Penguins do? Would it be smart to move one of the three before their contracts expire? Staal and Crosby become unrestricted free agents next summer and Malkin hits the market in 2013-14.
There has been speculation on places like twitter with respect to trading Jordan Staal for a No. 1 draft pick. Considering the fact that Malkin and Crosby are superior to Staal in terms of talent and because they both have unmovable clauses, trading Staal could prove to be the ideal transaction for the Penguins.
Staal is currently making $4 million per season and will most definitely ask for an increase in salary when his contract expires. He has become one of the best two-way centers in the league and is an extremely valuable player on the special teams. In short, Staal does it all.
So who do you think the Penguins should do? Move Staal? What about Malkin? Certainly we wouldn't dare trade Crosby, would we? Or is it best to do everything in your power to keep all three?