Remember when Marc Bergevin said those big, franchise-level centers don't become available very often? Well one may have just become available.
"When you get knocked out of the playoffs and the day after your president (and CEO David Morehouse) comes out and says, 'Look, we're not firing Mike Johnston, we're not firing Jim Rutherford, we're not trading Evgeni Malkin, and we're not trading Sidney Crosby,'"
"Now I can understand you coming out and saying the first two, but why would you need to say the next two? Why do you have to tell everybody we're not trading Malkin or Crosby? And that's when the sale rumors went wild."
Trading for Evgeni Malkin would be by no means an easy venture. Almost every team in the NHL would be in on it, the price would be staggering, and his cap hit is a gigantic $9.5M, which is on the books until 2022.
Not only would the Canadiens have to pay a heavy price, but they would also need to clear cap space in order to do it. However if the Canadiens truly believe that Alex Galchenyuk may be a left wing permanently, they have no choice but to jump at a player like this being available.
Malkin will be turning 29 years old at the end of July, which means you're buying the end of his prime, but he is still the second biggest point producer in the NHL over the last 8 years, right behind Sidney Crosby. Add to that, Malkin has said before that if he wasn't playing for Pittsburgh, he would want to play for Montreal, and you have a player much more likely to waive his no movement clause.
Still though, the price to acquire Malkin would be steep. It's unlikely Pittsburgh would take all of his salary back in other assets, so you'd have to find another taker for one of the contracts keeping the Habs close to the cap, while giving up a king's ransom.
In order to build a package to grab Malkin, you likely have to start with Tomas Plekanec, enabling the Penguins to fill the hole they just created in the lineup with a good player, then you're likely adding in your most NHL ready high-end forward prospect (likely Charles Hudon), and multiple first round picks, maybe as many as four. It's a crazy price to pay, but not when you're talking about one of the best centers in the NHL. There's also the possibility that Pittsburgh wants more NHL talent, and you may be faced with giving up Brendan Gallagher.
Heck, imagine in a year or two, you could run an all-"Russian" line with Galchenyuk and Nikita Scherbak on Malkin's wings.
The cost is huge, but the Canadiens do have the assets to pull it off if they want to be bold. Would you?
For whatever it's worth, Friedman tweeted this later:
@theScore I also said PIT is not going to do it.— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) June 5, 2015