Trade Crosby? Just kidding
Share with others:
The Penguins' rich collection of superb young talent understandably has given rise to the concern among the fan base and media that there's no way the franchise can keep all of these players under the restrictions of the NHL salary cap. There's just not enough money to go around.
It's a legitimate worry, but one for which there is a solution.
We're here today to propose that solution, which will not only enable the Penguins to continue winning at their current pace while also upgrading their offense and solving any salary cap problems.
Trade Sidney Crosby.
That's right, unload Crosby and his massive salary. For all his brilliance, and we're not disputing that, he's only the team's fifth-leading goal scorer.
Think of all the young and low-salaried talent the franchise could fetch for Crosby. Teams would be lining up with their best prospect -- or anyone else the Penguins might want -- for a chance to obtain Crosby, who missed his 23rd game yesterday, a 7-1 rout of the Philadelphia Flyers at Mellon Arena.
With Crosby's salary out of the way, the Penguins would have no problem keeping center Evgeni Malkin, winger Ryan Malone and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, all of whom are up for contract renewals, and at the same time adding some significant free agents.
Sure, some might think it the height of folly to trade Crosby, regarded as the best player in the NHL, and who won't be 21 until August. But the cold statistics of the 2007-08 season say the Penguins can do without him. Consider the following:
• With Crosby this season, the Penguins are 28-18-3, a very nice record that translates to a more-than respectable 97-point season.
• Without Crosby, the Penguins are 13-6-4, an even better record that translates to a 107-point season.
• With Crosby, the Penguins have scored 141 goals in 49 games, an average of 2.88.
• Without Crosby, the Penguins have scored 78 goals in 23 games, an average of 3.39.
The facts speak. The Penguins are a better team without Crosby, which means general manager Ray Shero should shortly begin the process of lining up suitors for the biggest trade in franchise history.
And, of course, we're only kidding.
You don't trade Crosby, no matter what the statistics say. But those statistics are peculiar. How do you remove the best player on the team, to say nothing of the league, from the equation and get better? How do you subtract the NHL scoring champion and gain half-a-goal a game?
Some of his teammates suggested the Penguins would be both winning and scoring even more if Crosby were in the lineup. In theory that would figure to be true. In practice it's not.
After Crosby missed 20 games, the result of a high ankle sprain against Tampa Bay Jan. 18, he came back for three games in a seven-day stretch earlier this month. The Penguins won two of those games -- roughly the same winning pace at which they had been playing. But they scored only eight goals in those three games -- considerably below what they did without him.
His teammates are at a loss to explain why they're better without Crosby. Some don't even want to hear it.
Forward Pascal Dupuis, whose perfect pass across the goal mouth set up Petr Sykora for the second Penguins goal yesterday, joined the team at the trade deadline and has played with Crosby only three times.
"We miss him, we miss him badly," he said.
Defenseman Brooks Orpik admitted to being perplexed by the statistics.
"I can't really pinpoint a reason," he said. "We saw some of those statistics. The power-play percentage is higher without him, too. We joke around about it with him. He probably doesn't want to hear it.
"That being said, no one wants him out of the lineup. Maybe guys kind of sit back [when Crosby plays]. I don't want to say he makes other guys nervous, but they kind of look at him and know he's in the lineup and they don't have to play as hard."
Crosby's absence has allowed Malkin to considerably upgrade his game. For what ever reason, he has risen to the occasion and is challenging for the league scoring championship. The line of Malkin, Malone and Sykora accounted for four goals and nine points against the Flyers, and ranks among the best in the league.
Another plus from Crosby's absence is the confidence the team has gained without him. It is an accomplished championship-caliber club with Crosby watching. There's no telling how good it will be when he comes back full time.
"When he's out of the lineup, everyone tries to be a difference maker," Malone said. "That's what you need when your top guy goes out. There's no reason when he comes back we can't have the same desperation and the same attitude."
First Published March 17, 2008 12:00 am