Well this was a mild surprise at best. Ray Shero sent the rights to Ryan Malone and Gary Roberts to the Tampa Bay Lightning for a 2009 4th round pick. Should Malone sign, this would become a 3rd rounder in 2009.
I am a little sad to see Malone go and a little angry from a fan's perspective that this deal didn't happen sooner. Here's why.
Since Malone's sophomore campaign in the NHL the Penguins have stuck by him and rejected countless trade offers for him. My guess is that they knew that he could be the type of player he was for us in 2007-08. That much makes sense to me.
Now all of a sudden he's gone and I'm left with an empty feeling with him and Roberts going for sure and the very real possibility that Marian Hossa will also be gone. That's three big holes to fill for next season, so I hope Shero has some grand plan up his sleeve to ease this nagging pain in my stomach. I thought that feeling would have subsided after the season ended, apparently I was wrong.
As for Roberts leaving, I was really hoping he would just retire so that I could go buy a jersey and put his name on it. During the playoffs I wrote about how I compared this guy to Chuck Norris. (Check link at bottom if you're interested by that last line.)
This guy is a warrior in every way possible. I hold nothing against him at all and wish him nothing but the best for the remainder of his career. For a42-year-old guy to keep playing the way he did when he was just starting his career some 20 years ago, is incredible. He's fearless and will eat your young.
The problem I have with this entire situation is that we're losing two huge character guys on this team and I'm not sure who will step in and fill their shoes. There could be some players out there who could bring some grit and passion to the line-up, but I haven't really looked so I'm open to your thoughts about who's available to fill that kind of role.
Already I don't see us signing both Jarkko Ruutu and Georges Laraque after big Georges was scratched for most of the Stanley Cup Finals. If you're doing the math that's three of four guys we need to replace.
The farm may help fill the void with guys like Jeff Taffe and Tim Brent, but we're going to need to bring some guys in during free agency. Plain and simple.
At least the core of the team will remain the same.....hopefully.