Could the Pittsburgh Penguins actually trade Sidney Crosby?

GM Jim Rutherford’s sudden exit has the Pittsburgh Penguins in a state of flux, but could they actually trade Sidney Crosby?

The Pittsburgh Penguins are off to a slow start this season (4-3-1 entering Saturday), and last Wednesday general manager Jim Rutherford resigned from his post. The organization was shocked by the abrupt exit of Rutherford, including star center Sidney Crosby.

“I think everyone was surprised,” Crosby said Thursday.

On Thursday, TSN’s Darren Dreger suggested the Penguins’ new management could decide the team needs to rebuild. With that comes the potential for some big names to be on the move, but the idea Crosby could be traded is a new one.

Would the Penguins really trade Sidney Crosby?

Crosby is 33 years old, and after this season he has four years left on a contract that counts for $8.7 million against the salary cap each year. He also, as expected, has a full no-move clause.

After posting 47 points in 41 games last season, Crosby has seven points (three goals, four assists) in eight games so far this season. So there are no signs of serious decline right now, but he does have some significant injury history that won’t become less concerning going forward.

The Penguins’ top three cap hits for this year are Evgeni Malkin ($9.5 million), Crosby and defenseman Kris Letang ($7.25 million). The key difference between the three is Malkin and Letang each has one more year left on their contract after this one. And Malkin’s name is no stranger to trade rumors.

If the Penguins’ new general manager, from what may be a lengthy list of candidates throwing their hat in the ring, wants to start a rebuild maybe Crosby would waive or modify his no-move clause. He could be allowed to submit a list of teams he will or won’t go to, and let the Penguins take it from there.

The market for Crosby would automatically be narrow. But Shug McSween of The Hockey Writers highlighted two possible landing spots that Dreger offered–the Colorado Avalanche and the Montreal Canadiens. Both teams would appeal to Crosby in some way, and both have a case to make a big move for a Stanley Cup run over the next few years.

Malkin is probably the first guy moved if the Penguins are open for business, starting soon and possibly into next season. There’s a percentage chance Crosby is dealt at some point if that’s the path the Penguins take, and it’s not zero.