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Perhaps the most stunning thing about what is the biggest hockey news of the morning is that it's not about teams seeking to acquire Evgeni Malkin from the Pittsburgh Penguins. It's about GM Ray Shero actively shopping the player some consider to be potentially the best in hockey.

From Bruce Garrioch of Sun Media:

The Penguins are trying to make a blockbuster move before tomorrow night's NHL draft at Scotiabank Place. League sources say Pittsburgh GM Ray Shero offered all-star centre Evgeni Malkin to the Kings for the No. 2 overall pick in the draft and a player, possibly centre Mike Cammalleri.

While many NHL executives refused to believe the Penguins would trade the 21-year-old Malkin because he has one year left on his entry-level contract at a bargain $984,000 (all terms US), the indications are that Shero wants to sign winger Marian Hossa before he becomes an unrestricted free agent -- a deal that could cost Pittsburgh upward of $8 million a year. If the Penguins retained Hossa, signing Malkin next year could be dicey because of salary cap considerations. Kings GM Dean Lombardi told Sun Media yesterday that he's had two solid offers for the No. 2 pick, but after meeting with his ownership group decided to stay the course by building with young players.

Boy, Sidney Crosby certainly wants to keep his Kurri, not matter what it costs.

There is a bit of contradiction here, as Garrioch quotes Lombardi as saying, "To trade away that draft pick, we're going to have to get a lot of value." Malkin for Cammalleri and what could be blue-chip defenseman Drew Doughty or Russian dynamo Nikita Filatov would be at best a steal for the Kings and, at worst, close to equal value once the rookies ripen. If that's not "a lot of value" ... is Lombardi waiting for the Penguins to throw in Marc-Andre Fleury or something? This trade could be the most franchise-defining moment for the Kings since Peter Pocklington made a nation cry. Maybe Lombardi is just worried he's going to end up with Lindros instead of Forsberg.

As for the Penguins, our simple, flawed human minds can't process the absurd notion that the team could somehow be choosing Hossa over Malkin. So let's forget about that angle.

Perhaps Shero is infatuated with flipping his Russian star for the next Scott Niedermayer or the next Pavel Bure, and saving major coin in the process. Maybe he knows something we don't about Malkin.

But on the surface -- and with the very important Garrioch grain of salt -- hearing Evgeni Malkin being shopped weeks after declaring he'd give the Penguins a Crosby discount is absolutely stunning if true.

To think this franchise is at a do-or-die crossroads before Sidney can even legally buy a beer is just baffling and, as a hockey fan, absolutely captivating.

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