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Pittsburgh, PA • United States • 48 Years Old • Male

Ryan Malone

Posted 10:32 AM ET | Comments 12
I play "adult league" hockey with a good friend who I met back in 1998.

One day back in early 1999, my friend and I were talking before one of our games and he said that he was interested to see who the Pens would take in the upcomming draft. He told me that Greg Malone lived "next door" and he had been trying to find out what the teams draft plans were. My friend told me that he "thought" the Pens might draft Greg's son Ryan, if he was still around after a few rounds.

As it turned out, the Pens 1999 draft class was not a very good one. Names like Koltsov, Murley and Caron (the first 3 picks) are probably only remembered by Penguins fans...and none of them have made any kind of a real dent in the NHL since then.

But in round 4, with pick number 115, the Penguins took a chance on a hometown kid named Ryan Malone.

Malone would get his first chance to play for the Pens in the 2003-04 season. He would go on to score some memorable goals in his rookie year (22 in total) and was easily one of the fans favorites.

Hometown kids that get a chance in the "bigs" almost always are.

Over the next 3 and a half years (2 and a half seasons...there was a nasty strike in there somewhere), the Pens would watch Malone see-saw back and forth from playing great hockey to sometimes being too much of a bystander.

Then, about halfway through this past season, everything seemed to fall in place for Malone. Playing with Petr Sykora and Evgeny Malkin on the teams top line (while Sidney Crosby was injured) Malone finally found the consistency in his game that everybody was hoping for.

And through a great playoff run...that ended 2 wins shy of a Stanley Cup, Malone continued to show his value by scornig 16 points in 20 games and leading the way as a physical presence among the Penguins forwards. Who can forget how he got hit in the nose with a puck in game 5, leaving the ice with blood rushing from his face...only to return to the game and play a key part in an triple OT victory that was one of the best games in cup finals history.

Certainly, Ryan's performance during the second half of the season and the playoffs has made him a very attractive player to a lot of clubs, as he approaches unrestricted free-agrency on July 1st.

So that makes this a tough time for Malone (he will be 29 in December), Penguins GM Ray Shero and the FANS of the Penguins.

Malone must make a decision about his future...and the very real possibility that he will play hockey somewhere besides his home town next year. He has to try and balance any offer he might get from Ray Shero to stay here (with a hometown "discount"?) with higher offers he's likey to see from other clubs that need a big skilled forward who plays with a lot of heart. At 28, he has to realize that THIS is his chance to make some good money so that his life after hockey is taken care of.

If I could get both sides in a room I would emplore them to "find a way" to keep Ryan here.

From everything I have seen of Malone, I get the feeling he won't be quite the same player on another team.

That's not a knock on him...just a feeling I have.

And from Shero's point of view, I don't think the Malone we saw in the second half of the season and through the playoffs is very easy to replace. If we can have THAT guy back for a few more years, it might be worth it to pay him a little more than you like.

Plus, I have a good feeling about a Stanley Cup with Penguins names on it in the near future.

It would be a shame if one of those names wasn't Ryan Malone.
Filed Under:   free agency   malone   ryan   cup   pens   playoffs  
June 9, 2008 11:07 AM ET | Delete
Some team will overpay Malone. I agree that he won't be the same player on another team, but Malone didn't kick it into gear until around January. His intangibles will be hard to replace. Every Penguin who thinks of Malone will remember that gutsy game when Gill golfed a slapshot into Malone's nose. I just don't see Malone coming back and I wish him nothing but the best. If losing Malone increases the chances of signing Hossa then I'm all for it. Very nice blog.
June 9, 2008 11:34 AM ET | Delete
Man the Rangers could use Malone. Most people argue that he didn't take off until he played with Malkin.I don't see how he can't drive to the net on Dubinsky or Gomez's wing. Great player,good blog.
June 9, 2008 11:34 AM ET | Delete
Message Posted
June 9, 2008 12:19 PM ET | Delete
Malone is a good player but he is not near worth the money that most GM's in the league will pay him now. I hope he eats up a rivals cap like NYR.
June 9, 2008 12:19 PM ET | Delete
Nice blog. Good stuff. I'm sure there are 29 teams out there that would love to add Malone and 1 who wants to keep him. I believe that the best fit for Malone is a team looking to round out their roster and be in the upper echelon. Guys like Avery, Tucker, Malone, etc don't take a 25th place club into the top ten. They are most effective on a team that's on a mission.
June 9, 2008 12:44 PM ET | Delete
nice job ice...chemistry is a big key to a players success...
June 9, 2008 3:25 PM ET | Delete
We'll get to see how good of a GM Shero is now that he has to actually stay within a budget. Looks to be quite the challenge. For the Pens sake, I hope he does a better job than Feaster in Tampa - overpay a few superstars and leave a minor league supporting cast.
June 9, 2008 3:49 PM ET | Delete
Based on the past 2 years I am optimistic that Shero, Lemieux and company will make good decisions on who to keep and who to let go. We may not like them all, but I think these guys know what's needed to win, and they plan on making sure we have a good team from here on out. After the past two years, they have won my confidence.
June 9, 2008 8:35 PM ET | Delete
ok icedog, so what's the talk round the igloo ? is one of the things the Pens are looking at is signing Hossa ? or is he truly just a rental ? albeit one who paid off handsomely for the Pens ? Can they retain him ? and at what cost ? the cost of Malone ? Orpik ?
June 10, 2008 8:41 AM ET | Delete
In Crosby's last interview he said 2 important things...1) he loves playing with Hossa, 2) if the Pens signed Hossa to a contract worth MORE than his, he would be fine with that (he was asked this question specifically - of course we know Sid makes big $ on endorsements so salary is not as important to him as it may be to other). Based on that, I get the feeling they will try to sign Hossa. Sid's word obviously carry some weight. The real tricky players are Fluery, Malkin and Staal. I put them in that order because I think that's how they will address signing these guys. They have a surplus of centers...Staal will never get the chance behind Sid and Geno...so the logical thing to do is move one of those 2 guys. Obviously, Geno is worth more...and no one knows for sure if Staal will ever find a scoring touch (but at 19, I think they are willing to wait it out). But would they really move Geno? I wish I knew. I had heard that the team is committed to it's 3 centers and it's goalie...which falls in line with what pretty much everybody else thinks. If you go along with that notion, then the rest of the guys (they want) get signed for something CLOSE to, but probably below market value...or they play elsewhere. Orpik and Malone will most likely be faced with a doubling of salary from the Pens (assuming they get offers from the Pens)...but other GMs will likely pay them 3X what they made last year. Those two guys might have to make a tough decision. OF COURSE, THIS IS ALL JUST MY SPECULATION...I DON'T HAVE ANY GOOD INSIDE DIRT.
June 10, 2008 8:51 AM ET | Delete
So, to sum up...Crosby stays (lol), Fleury stays, and then probably 2 of these 3 stay...Hossa, Malkin and Staal. Of course, they could sign Hossa, and wait until next year for Staal and/or Malkin...rolling the dice with one or both. I think they will make the pitch for Hossa and then depending on how that goes...move from there. Most people think Hossa will bolt. But if he would be willing to play for 7-8mil in Pgh...he could stay.
June 10, 2008 10:58 AM ET | Delete
If Pitts don't sigh Malone I hope Bob gainey was paying attention and finds room for this guy in a Habs jersey. The kid is a warrior
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