Shero likely to be a player at trade deadline
WASHINGTON -- The Penguins aren't quite ready to acknowledge that Evgeni Malkin won't play again this season, although that is nothing more than a formality at this point.
Putting him on the Long Term Injured List will free up $8 million or so in salary-cap space (the precise figure changes day to day, but it is Malkin's $8.7 million cap hit, minus the amount separating the Penguins from the cap ceiling of $59.4 million).
That means general manager Ray Shero might well be busy between now and the NHL trade deadline at 3 p.m. Feb.28.
That wasn't necessarily the case before Malkin was hurt, because any significant deal Shero would have made then would have involved giving up someone off the major league roster.
Because the Penguins should be reasonably set at center when Sidney Crosby (concussion) and Mark Letestu (knee surgery) return, Shero presumably will focus on trying to find a goal-scoring winger or two.
If precedent is any indication, guys from nonplayoff teams who will be unrestricted free agents this summer figure to get particular attention, because Shero has a history of adding such players -- Marian Hossa, Bill Guerin and Alexei Ponikarovsky, for example -- at the deadline.
The most intriguing member of that group, at least at the moment, might be PA Parenteau of the New York Islanders. He has 13 goals and 19 assists in 51 games and a salary of just $600,000.
Beyond that, players who meet the above criteria are mostly underachieving, overpaid or both. A sampling, with their full-season cap hits and stats, includes:
• Ottawa right winger Alex Kovalev ($5 million). 11 goals, 12 assists in 47 games.
• Florida left winger Cory Stillman ($3,533,333). Seven goals and 14 assists in 38 games.
• Florida right winger Radek Dvorak ($1.7 million). Six goals and 13 assists in 43 games.
• Florida left winger Chris Higgins ($1.6 million). Nine goals and 10 assists in 39 games.
That list will get longer (and presumably, more interesting) as other teams fall from playoff contention.
Also, there is a chance some UFAs-to-be from clubs that might qualify for the postseason will go on the market.
They include the likes of Brad Richards of Dallas ($7.8 million, 21 and 38 in 53), Colorado's Milan Hejduk ($3 million, 17 and 27 in 45) and Radim Vrbata of Phoenix ($3 million, 11 and 16 in 51).
And, of course, it always is possible Shero will make a move for someone who has time left on his contract, although that would deviate from his usual approach.
The catch is, the Penguins already have about $53 million tied up in 16 one-way contracts for next season, and likely would have to remove a big-ticket player from their roster to make room for a newcomer making significant money beyond this spring.
Finally, thanks to an interesting loophole in the league's labor agreement, it theoretically would be possible for the Penguins to have Malkin, as well as any players brought in before the deadline, in their lineup for the playoffs, because the cap ceiling is not in effect then.
There is, however, no reason to believe Malkin will be healthy enough to play by then.
It is easy to pinpoint the most memorable part of Tim Wallace's first NHL game this season: His fight with Washington forward David Steckel at 7:52 of the third period of a 3-0 loss Sunday at the Verizon Center.
"I certainly thought he did a good job stepping up and fighting Steckel," coach Dan Bylsma said.
Wallace, who said "I was trying to do whatever I could to get our team going," finished with seven minutes, 42 seconds of ice time. He was not credited with any hits, although hitting is one of his strengths.
"There were a couple of times in the beginning of the game where he tried to be physical," Bylsma said.
Mike Knuble's empty-net goal with 43.6 seconds left in regulation didn't have an impact on the outcome, but it enhanced a couple of striking stats.
The goal was Knuble's 30th against the Penguins; that's 12 more than he has against any other opponent.
What's more, he has a goal in each of the seven games he has played against the Penguins as a member of the Capitals and at least one point in 11 consecutive games against them.
Washington's shutout was its first against the Penguins in the regular season since Oct. 29, 1991. ... Capitals defenseman Mike Green is listed as day-to-day after being struck in the side of the head by a shot as the first period was expiring. He needed an unspecified number of stitches to stop the bleeding from his ear.
First Published February 7, 2011 12:00 am