He's a fighter, sniper, a tip-in specialist and he runs a chance of landing elsewhere before next season. Ryan Malone, the Pittsburgh-bred left winger, turned a lot of heads in 2007/08 with his first 50-plus point season. Conveniently for him, and equally inconvenient for the Penguins, Malone enters a phase of contract negotiations. Will Malone's value on the open market have him leaving Pitt, or will the hometown favorite take a discount to stay with Sid and Geno?
2007-2008 Regular season stats
Ryan Malone matured into one hell of a player this season. In three out of his four years with the squad. Malone tallied 20 goals a piece. The only exception came last season, where Bugsy scored 16 in 64 games (13 less than this season).
Malone also packs an extra punch; literally. His 103 penalty minutes included 45 from fighting alone. Unlike guys like the Rangers' Sean Avery, Vancouver's Alex Burrows and Philly's Riley Cote, Malone is a guy who can literally register as an all-around player. Not to mention, his penalty killing abilities came in handy when Sid was down for part of the year.
In hindsight, one can almost say that Sid's injury drew more attention to guys like Sykora, Malkin and Malone. Of course, it was their scoring abilities that drew the attention. Had they lacked in that department, then just as much negativity would have come sailing down on the trio and spoiling any price tag for Malone on the open market.
Guys like Gary Roberts have accrued enough of a reputation throughout their careers to pose as the walking definition of the term "warrior." Malone is no exception. His post-season performance wasn't necessarily attractive in terms of the score sheet, but his ability to take some knocks and get back on the ice is what truly defined him as a hard-nosed player. Never mind the fact his nose was broken twice, once on a hit from Detroit's Kronwall and the other on a rising slapshot from the stick of Hal Gill. There were also rumors of an obligatory "lower body injury" circulating through the rumor mill, but to what extent no one outside the medical staff knows.
So - will Malone consider the hometown discount, or will Pitt fans regretfully wave good-bye?
Consider this (link courtesy of Dunman)