Here’s an excerpt from my column about the Penguins’ Evgeni Malkin dilemma: 

Malkin will be the No. 2 center no matter what. He will be on the power play no matter what. The protocol doesn’t allow for embarrassment via lessened duties. That goes for the rest of this season and the remaining two years of Malkin’s contract. (Not that there’s currently anybody better to step into Malkin’s role.) 

To read the entire piece, click HERE

Malkin scored in Sunday's 6-1 loss at Edmonton, his first goal in 14 games. That gives Malkin two goals in 20 games.

Malkin isn’t on edge and ready to explode. He's an empty jersey.

President of hockey ops/GM Kyle Dubas must remake the Penguins around the core three of Malkin, Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang. (It’s really a core four now, including Erik Karlsson.) 

But free-agent wingers won’t want to come to Pittsburgh if they’re going to play with Malkin. That’s no longer a positive selling point. 

Had the Penguins let Malkin leave via free agency in 2022, they might have signed local guy Vince Trocheck to take his place at center. Trocheck was a free agent that off-season, ultimately signing with the New York Rangers. 

Trocheck has 22 goals and 36 assists in 61 games. He made the NHL’s All-Star event and is brilliant on the power play, manning the new-fangled bumper position with aplomb. Forecheck, backcheck, Trocheck. 

Trocheck isn’t upset by how things turned out, I suspect: The Rangers are first in the Metropolitan Division, 22 points ahead of the Penguins, and are legit Stanley Cup contenders. 

Pittsburgh Penguins v Arizona Coyotes

Photo: Christian Petersen / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

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