Ever since the buyout of former-Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier, and maybe even a little before that, rumors were flying that the Tampa Bay Lightning was looking to move left wing Ryan Malone. However, I think the real question here is, should they?
I will give you this; Malone spent just over half of the season last year out with various injuries. Some would go as far as to call him ‘injury prone’.
This has been the platform on which those who favor the trade have based their argument.
At the same time, you could say the exact same thing about Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, who has spent a large part of the last 3 seasons on the bench with various issues stemming from concussion-related symptoms. I don’t see anyone in Pittsburgh calling for his head.
Injuries are what they are; unfortunate accidents. Very few of them are in control of the player suffering the injury. All they can do is get up off the ice, head back to the locker room, and do everything within their power to get back out on the ice.
Now, there are indeed the financial implications on the team when a player sits the bench instead of charging the back of the opposing team’s net.
Right now, Malone is owed $2.5 million a year ending with the 2014-15 season in which he will become an Unrestricted Free Agent. Is Bugsy worth another $5 million to the Lightning organization?
If you ask me, I say yes.
Last season, he scored 6 goals and 2 assists in the 24 games he played. However, with an already shortened season thanks to the NHL Lockout, those numbers are no a fair assessment of his talents.
Since being acquired by the Lightning on June 28, 2008 in a trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Malone has continued to produce 40+ point seasons consistently.
During the 2011-12 season, he scored 20 goals and 28 assists for a total of 48 points in 68 games.
He has a solid presence in front of the net, and seems to always be in the right place when the rebound comes around. This is something that I noticed the Lightning struggle with during Malone’s absence last season.
At this stage in the game, I think the Lightning have much bigger issues to deal with at the moment. With the issues that the Lightning had last season on the defensive front, I can assure you that Lightning Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman has been busy this off-season making moves to fill in the holes.
However, this may all be a moot point once the season starts. If Malone can storm the ice this season and give the Lightning fans a glimpse of the Bugsy that they have all come to know and love, all of the rumors will fade away into oblivion.