Evgeni Malkin
ESNY Graphic, AP Photo

As the rebuild reaches its final stage, the New York Rangers must keep to the long-term plan in place and avoid the “win-now” attitude.

Frank Curto

General manager Jeff Gorton has his New York Rangers aligned, so he can be very aggressive once the NHL Entry Draft and free agency begin in about four weeks.

The crucial time when mistakes can be made is now. It doesn’t hurt to think about mistakes while sitting in the stands watching the rest of the league play for the cup. Oh yeah, the rumors are also running wild this time of year.

Case in point: Pittsburgh Penguins stud Evgeni Malkin. The 32-year-old center (who will turn 33 on July 31) has had an outstanding 13-year career with the Pens. His achievements speak for itself.

  • Three-time Stanley Cup Champion
  • 2006-07 Calder Trophy
  • 2011-12 Hart Trophy
  • Twice has won the Ross Trophy
  • 2008-09 Conn Smythe Trophy

These are just a few of the accomplishments that Malkin has reached over his NHL career.

Yet, with losing playoff games, the stories seem to lead to rumors and trades. The Rangers have to look deep to even consider this possibility, one which this writer hopes the team moves far away from.

Plenty of people will say, “Frank, you don’t know what you’re talking about; last week you wrote the team should look at P.K. Subban. Now your saying stay away from Malkin?”

Yes, I am, and the differences are dramatic. The Subban story is done; there’s no need to relive it. So why do I believe Malkin is a bad choice? Let’s take a look.

The Malkin rumors are true?

Rumors are just what they appear to be: stories to stir the pot. In years past, Malkin’s name has come up in different rumors, but normally, the rumors have been started outside of the Pittsburgh area.

TSN’s Elliotte Friedman spoke with the NHL Network on Sunday and mentioned that this year the Malkin rumors have begun within Pittsburgh. Though he couldn’t offer more detail, his information is rock solid and I would believe what he is saying to the public.

With regards to Malkin joining the Blueshirts, a lot of different things have to be looked at. He is a great player, a big hitter and a great skater who can carry the team as the number one guy. This season, he recorded 21 goals with 72 points in 68 games. The surprise was his plus/minus (-25) which was the absolute worst of his career.

Prior to this season, Malkin was only in the negative three other times. He has only played a complete 82-game season twice in his 13 years, 2007-08 and 2008-09. He has battled injuries quite often over the last seven seasons, managing to appear in more than 69 games in just one of those years.

New York Rangers

The Rangers are in good shape at the forward position, which is the opposite of where they are with the defense, another reason why I supported a Subban trade. Players like Brett Howden, Filip Chytil, Ryan Strome and Mika Zibanejad all had impactful seasons in 2018-19.

The future on offense is bright. The team anticipates Vitali Kravtsov to make the team next season. The Rangers first-round draft pick signed with the team last week and will participate in the organization’s prospect camp in June.

The Rangers have been part of another rumor which has unrestricted free agent Artemi Panarin possibly signing with the team once free agency begins in July.

The Rangers have aligned themselves well. If the team was in the “this is our year” mode, Malkin would be a great fit. He has three years remaining on his contract with a cap hit of $9.5 Million, which expires at the end of the 2021-22 season.

With over $28 million owed to him, this is not the right direction for the team to go in.

Stay on course, Blueshirts.

Sometimes, walking away from a potential trade is the best move as is the case with Evgeni Malkin.

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