TIOPS DAILY FIVE
*Rumblings, Musings, Opinions*
1. There’s been a thought, and I’ve kind of been in this crowd, that Evgeni Malkin
projects to be the better player over Sidney Crosby into his 30’s because of his size.
I’m becoming more on the fence about that by the day.
With Pavel Datsyuk still a dominant two-way player at age 36, I broached this subject with some around the league as Malkin is a hot topic just about everywhere right now and one scout believes Malkin’s struggles to stay healthy over an 82 game season the last several seasons is just the beginning and a big red flag for him.
Malkin missed 17 games in 2013 (48 game season), 22 games last season and 13 games this season.
“He can’t stay healthy,” a long-time NHL scout said. “Why is that, you ask? “Every year it seems to be something and you’re seeing injuries [for him] pop up around the 3/4 mark of the season. To me [lower body injuries] — that’s a player who isn’t training the right way.”
When it comes to Sidney Crosby, the scout believes Crosby’s going to have a Joe Sakic type of career in his 30’s (individually).
“He keeps himself in top-shelf shape,” the scout said of Crosby. “He’s so smart on the ice and off it to prepare for the grind [of 82 game season].I see so much Joe Sakic in him. Way he prepares himself, thinks the game — will give himself great chance to play really well into his [late] 30’s.”
Sakic by the way had back to back 87 point seasons at age 34 and 36 (lockout in-between), and a 36 goal, 100 point season at age 37.
2. Elliotte Friedman hit the nail on the head Monday when appearing on Sportsnet Radio, indicating how don’t the Penguins have a serious debate internally about Malkin? Doesn’t mean they should trade him but how it is not a topic of discussion.
“To me if you’re the Penguins, you have to take a good long look in a salary cap world, you don’t have to do it, but you should be asking yourself the question: Do we need to trade a Malkin? If we can get two or three good pieces, because you’re not trading one for one, if you’re trading Malkin for another guy who makes Malkin’s salary you’re not solving anything. But if you can get two-three pieces, including a guy who can play with Crosby for Evgeni Malkin, don’t you have to think about it,” Friedman said.
“At what point do you look at it and say, you know what, yeah we won the Stanley Cup, but that was six years ago. The salary cap is flattening out. These two guys together make $18.2 million and we keep losing in the playoffs because we don’t have enough support pieces. I think if you’re the Penguins you at least have to have that conversation. I would be shocked if they didn’t at least have a serious debate about it internally”
The message being laid down from ownership is that it won’t be a discussion.
4. Dan Bylsma had a significant amount of impact on personnel decisions, probably too much, and Mike Johnston’s influence on personnel decisions will be telling very early into the summer and we’ll get a good read on how much influence he has in what the Penguins decide to do with Rob Scuderi
Johnston remains a supporter of Scuderi and believes there’s a need for a player like him in a third pairing role. There will be a push from Johnston to keep Scuderi around.
With the buy-out period June 15-30 and the draft in late June, Scuderi’s future will be known by July 1.
5. There’s always a wildcard position to watch for the Steelers in the draft. This year it is offensive tackle/Guard, though, a very big long-shot. At least according to agents who represent the top group of players, the Steelers have looked closely at enough first round guard/tackle combos where it’s a position not to rule out if for instance LSU’s La’el Collins were to be there at No. 22 and the board doesn’t fall like the Steelers had hoped. Kevin Colbert called the tackle position one of the best he’s seen in years.