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Questions remain whether having the type of money the Penguins have committed in two “superstar centers” is the best way to build a Cup team

Evgeni Malkin was always expected to be an easy negotiation for the Penguins. He loves playing in Pittsburgh and not having to be in the media spotlight on a day to day basis as the focus is always on Sidney Crosby, makes it a comfortable place for him.
GM Ray Shero, though, had to first ask the question to Malkin if he still wanted to be here.
“First question I always ask is that do you want to be here? And I’m not sure if Evgeni Malkin at this point after being here so long, prefer maybe to want to try something else, be the guy, or push his luck in free agency to see if he can be the highest paid guy in free agency, and that never came to that with him,” Shero said. “He made it very clear {he wanted to stay}, which I was very happy to hear that this is where he wants to play.”
No team in the NHL has the type of money the Penguins have committed to two stars in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Right now the two combine for $17.4 million against the cap and starting in 2014-2015, Malkin and Crosby will combine for $18.2 million against the cap.
By comparison, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks combine for $12.6 million against the cap through the 2014-2015 season. Crosby and Malkin are superior players to Toews and Kane, but Chicago has been able to build a better team around their two stars, making the Cup Finals in two of the last four years as they appear on their way to winning their second Stanley Cup.
Any GM in the same position as Ray Shero would resign Evgeni Malkin in a heartbeat, but until the Penguins get back to the Stanley Cup finals, it’s a fair question to ask in regards to whether having so much money tied up into two superstar centers is the best route to build a Stanley Cup team.
This isn’t the NBA where having the best player in the game {LeBron James} paired with another star puts you over the top nearly every year. Hockey is a team game where a goaltender and a legitimate No. 1 shutdown defenseman is just as valuable or maybe even more valuable then an elite scoring centerman.
Let’s be honest, the Penguins have not been a Stanley Cup team since the 2009 season. They might have advanced to the third round this year, but they won just eight playoff games this year and are 13-15 in the playoffs since the 2010-2011 season.
When the Penguins advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2008, Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby were still on their entry level contracts, taking up only about $6 million in cap space. In 2009 when the Penguins won the Stanley Cup, Evgeni Malkin was still on his entry level contract.
The toughest part of getting back to the Stanley Cup Finals for the Penguins was always going to be when Crosby and Malkin were off their entry level deals. So far, it’s been difficult for the Penguins.
“We as group won Stanley Cup before and I believe we can win again,” Malkin said in a conference call.
Shero feels Malkin’s best days are ahead of him.
“He’s a caring player, he’s a hard working player,” Shero said of Malkin. “He’s 26 years old, I believe his best days could be ahead of him. Glad to have him under contract and he’s a huge part of our franchise. It’s a good day for the Penguins, Evgeni and his family.”

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William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at

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