Ryan Malone. Gotta have him

Robin Brownlee
June 03 2008 02:06PM

malone.jpg

I don't know about other hockey aficionados who like to play GM, but for me there are defining moments when it comes to players, moments in which I decide "If I had a team, this guy would be on it" or "Nope, I don't want that guy."

One of those moments came Monday at Joe Louis Arena when Malone took a Hal Gill slapper in the face, staggered off the ice leaking blood like he'd been shot up the street in Greektown and then returned shortly after with his nose broken and his mug full of stitches in Pittsburgh's 4–3 triple-overtime win over the Detroit Red Wings.

As a closet GM, I've had my eye on Malone for awhile because he's a big, strong winger with soft hands who scored 27 goals for the Penguins this season and will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Somebody is going to pay Malone big dough to play next season. If I was Edmonton Oilers GM Kevin Lowe, I'd put enough lettuce on the table to make sure the 6’4”, 225-pound son of former NHLer Greg Malone is wearing copper and blue when the puck drops.

Clearly, Malone, who has busted his sniffer twice in these playoffs, was separated from Jason Smith and Igor Ulanov at birth. He has the pain threshold of a cadaver.

What makes Malone, 28, different than Smith and Ulanov is he's not only tough as a $3 steak, he's a combination of elite skill and extreme grit—you don't find that in many players.

It looks to me like Malone, who has seasons of 22 and 27 goals on his resume, is on the cusp of becoming one of the best power forwards in the NHL. He's entering his prime.

I think Malone is a more complete player at this juncture in his career than Dustin Penner, considered good enough that Lowe produced an offer sheet for $21.25 million to pry him out of Anaheim last summer. Malone is now what Penner might become down the road.

By the numbers, Malone has scored 87-82-169 in 299 regular seasons games since being drafted 115th by the Penguins in 1999. That works out to .56 points-per-game. Penner, by comparison, has 56-43-99 in 183 games, or .54 PPG. He's had back-to-back seasons of 29 and 23 goals.

My guess is it's going to take more than $4 million a season to get Malone to scrawl his name on a contract, and there'll be plenty of teams willing to pay it. He made $1.450 million this season.

I'm not saying that the Oilers are interested in getting in on the bidding for Malone, only that they should be. After Monday, I'm convinced of that.

—Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 5pm on Total Sports with Bob Stauffer on Team 1260.

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A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#1 Tim S
June 03 2008, 03:15PM
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This is a guy that Pits has to keep. Here is hoping they don't.

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#2 jdrevenge
June 03 2008, 05:45PM
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That'd really jam things up on the left. I would definitely take him and dump Glencross, Moreau. The guys probabley gonna be asking for 4.5-5.5 a year next year though.

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#3 erixon
June 04 2008, 05:56AM
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While I do have an appreciation for what Ryan Malone does, and the heart and grit he has, I just don't think he fits here. Not only will he come here with a large, overpaid contract, but fans will also have him under the microscope, just as any other player that comes into Edmonton. Yes he had 27 goals this year, but one has to wonder if he could repeat that performance without the likes of Malkin and Sykora. And we all know what fans here are like where there is someone underachieving. If you overpay for Malone, where does he fit? Can you pay a guy 4-5 million and throw him on the second line? If you put Penner on the second line, and move Malone, a similar style player to the first, what kind of statement are you sending to Penner? There is so many questions I could ask about what you do in this scenario, the more questions you have to ask, the better off I think you are finding someone else. While Malone brings a lot of heart, power/grit, and a great shot, the Oilers really only need one of those characteristics when they are looking to add a player in my opinion.

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#4 RobinB
June 04 2008, 06:36AM
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Erixon: Well said. I don't think a team can ever have too many players who combine the talent and grit Malone has, but you're right -- beyond that generalization, there would be questions when it comes to how he'd fit in the Oilers line-up and salary structure. Saying I'd have him on my team any day is different than the Oilers actually going out and getting him.

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#5 Wanye Gretz
June 04 2008, 08:53AM
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Unless Robin goes out and buys the Oilers off Katz. Then saying he'd have him on his team WOULD be the same as saying the Oilers will go out and get him.

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#6 Death Metal Dennis
June 10 2008, 07:20PM
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I wasn't that impressed with Malone in the finals at all other than taking pucks to the face. He was completely out of his league. 1 assist in the entire series. Draper's line made that line look like AHL players the whole series. for 4 million bucks, and the decline in production he'll take on the Oilers not playing with elite centers, he would be another mistake like Penner. concentrate on getting a real top line talent first, it will drop Horcoff down to the second line and help the rest of the "kids" out. its not like this dude is Brenden Morrow when it comes to creating chaos on the ice. he didnt bring enough aggression in the biggest stage of his career for me to care. pass.

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