In the wake of the recent announcement that Evgeni Malkin would be entering UFA status for the first time in his career this Wednesday I thought I would take a look at the potential fit with the Wild. Granted the chance of this happening is extremely slim, but with the announcement that he wants to play for a contender plus the connection with BG and MAF I would say the odds are not zero.
Malkin's numbers from last year:
41 GP, 20 G, 22 A, -10 +/-, 18:20 min/g
The point per game numbers look enticing except for the fact that it was only for half the season. Coming off of surgery and at 35 years old what type of player could the Wild expect to see on the ice? From the brief amount of research I have done it appears that he plays almost zero defense and only wins about 42% of his draws. Since the current stat of the Wild's center depth is not great I would argue that it is worth at least exploring what the team would look like with him on the top line.
KK - Malkin - Zucc
Boldy - Rossi - Hartman
Moose - Ek - Greenway
Dewar - Freddy - Duhaime/Jost
Midds - Spurge
Brodin - ?
Goose - Kulikov
To make the salary work in this scenario Dumba has to be traded. One could even argue that one of Jost or Kulikov would be moved as well to make this fit. However, you add a true number one center to the top line. This has a domino effect of allowing Hartman to switch back to a wing, Freddy goes back to the fourth line (where he probably belongs), and Rossi is not expected to be "the guy" for a couple years. It is rumored that he is looking for a 4 year commitment. Would Billy be willing to stomach that? Or would Malkin take less years since it is not with his hometown Penguins? A 2 year deal for 5 million per would be a gamble that could pay dividends. You add another established champion alongside MAF and give KK a talent up the middle that he hasn't had to date. Furthermore, it could help bolster the horrendous PP that contributed to the Wild's early playoff exit last year. He is a ppg player in the postseason and last season still had excellent Corsi numbers.
The downside is you open a big hole on the right side of the top four. Do you risk rolling Goose or Merrill next to Brodin and hope that he is able to cover up their mistakes on a nightly basis? Will the offense score enough to make the aging d-corp not be a total liability and will Malkin's body hold up to the grind of a full season plus potential playoff run?
What do you all think of potentially adding a future HOF center to the top line with his fellow Russian Kaprizov? Looking forward to a great discussion!