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Penguins trade rumors: Getting a Winger for Malkin?

Reports surface that the Pittsburgh Penguins are looking to add to their offense by adding a winger to play along side Evgeni Malkin. We look at what it might take and why the best option might not be a trade at all.

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN's Pierre Lebrun with the following nugget:

The Pittsburgh Penguins are scoring goals like nobody's business, and if they get their way, they'll add another weapon before the March trade deadline.

The Pens don't have anything in the hopper now, but when the time is right, we're told the plan is to try and add a top-six winger to play with Evgeni Malkin. Blake Comeau has done a nice job of late on Malkin's line with Pascal Dupuis, but in reality he's a bottom-six forward. Pittsburgh eventually will look for an upgrade for that spot.

The chip to play is obvious: The Penguins are loaded on defense in the organization. Youngsters such as Scott Harrington, Derrick Pouliot, Philip Samuelsson or Brian Dumoulin could be put out there as trade bait, but I suspect if teams come calling on a more established NHLer from Pittsburgh's back end, the Pens may have to listen depending on who's being offered.

This storyline will continue all season, especially with Paul Martin an impending UFA. And, even though we've advocated that a trade of Martin makes a lot of sense for both parties- remember that Martin does have a limited no-trade clause, and his $5 million salary means that other teams might try to saddle the Pens with a contract (and not a good one) in order to make room for Martin to fit with them. At the end of the day, it might be the smart play to let Martin finish out his deal and help the Penguins- especially if he keeps playing as well as he has this season.

Finding a winger for Malkin will be a challenge given the Penguins salary cap situation. They're right at the top of the cap with some temporary long-term injured reserve relief, but if they want to bring in a legitimate top six winger, it will be important to keep in mind that something has to give. Fans would love to trade off Rob Scuderi or maybe even Nick Spaling or Brandon Sutter, but it still seems like a longshot that management will be on board with that.

One wildcard that Lebrun doesn't mention is Beau Bennett. Ok, let's get the injury joke out of the way. Ready to move on?

Bennett - with the obvious disclaimer that he would have to do something he never has (stay healthy)- would give the Pens a potential top 6 option for cheap, and free of trading off a top prospect. There's a lot to like about a potential Dupuis-Malkin-Bennett line in terms of adding a little bit more skill with the puck for the Pens second most important skater.

It's also a weird time to float this rumor, being as the Pens have won their last 5 games by a combined score of 23-4, and have relative lightweights in Winnipeg and Buffalo on the schedule. Luckily the Penguins are dealing from a position of strength right now- their offense is filling the net (even if it is mostly power play fueled), so there shouldn't be a desperate rush to potentially make a bad trade that sacrifices a lot in hopes to get a skilled winger for Malkin.

Hopefully the Penguins can find an upgrade, but ideally a healthy Bennett might be the best all-around option.