Q: Do you think Ray Shero dropped the ball when it came to not getting a deal done with Evgeni Malkin before signing Sidney Crosby (if not very shortly thereafter)? Seems like a dimwitted non-move by Shero when even those of us who aren't NHL GMs knew that it wouldn't be long after Crosby's deal was in place that others would be raising the (salary) bar.
MOLINARI: Yes, Shero really made an unforgivable gaffe when he decided to follow the regulations established in the league's collective bargaining agreement, which stipulate that a team cannot negotiate a contract with a player until his current deal is entering its final year. Which, in Malkin's case, means talks can begin July 1.
Hopefully, in the future, Shero will not be so dimwitted that he fails to seek guidance from people who don't know the rules before making any personnel-related decisions.
Q: Do NHL rules prohibit a team from intentionally getting tossed from the faceoff circle? If a team had its best faceoff man waved out, could it intentionally commit a violation to get the other four skaters tossed out and make it back to its No. 1 man? Could it be penalized for delay-of-game if it attempted this?
Kevin Sapp, Boardman, Ohio
MOLINARI: It still isn't clear to the moderator of this forum if Q&A readers are exceptionally clever and creative or if they simply have too much time on their hands, but this is another great example of trying to devise a way to get around the rules.
Unfortunately for schemers everywhere, the league seemed to foresee a maneuver like the one proposed here, and legislated against it. Rule 76.6, which addresses faceoff violations and the way officials are supposed to handle them, mandates that referees issue a delay-of-game minor to any team that commits two faceoff infractions on the same draw.
Q: With so many players out with injuries, if a deal was to be struck, would the need for who they would acquire change? If a deep run into the playoffs is anticipated, defensive depth always seems to make sense.
Jim, Scott Township
MOLINARI: Making a trade, or at least a significant one, to address a short-term need resulting from injury or illness isn't usually a wise strategy. Plugging holes in such situations is the job of a farm team.
To this point, defenseman Mark Eaton is the only Penguins player scheduled to miss the rest of the season because of a health issue. Adding another defenseman would have been a good idea even if Eaton hadn't been hurt, if only because the rink of injuries at that position means teams are wise to have three of four capable replacements on their depth chart. (Which is why the Penguins brought in Joel Kwiatkowski at the deadline in 2007.) Losing Eaton probably adds a little urgency to Shero's search for a defenseman, but he still doesn't seem likely to bring one in who carries a significant price tag unless the guy will be around for more than just the stretch drive and 2008 playoffs.