Ryan Malone is a 10 year veteran in this league, dividing between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Tampa Bay Lighting, who has hit rock bottom. This is a player who just last season went from the Lightning’s top line, down to the fourth, to eventually being scratched from the lineup due to poor play. But this was only the beginning to Malone’s bad season as it got worse in April when he was arrested for a DUI and cocaine possession. So if Malone had any chance of staying with the Lightning for the last year of his contract, his arrest pretty much threw that idea straight out the window.
Having a salary cap hit of $4.5 million made the decision for the Lightning to buy him out even easier.
So without a home, and not much interest around the NHL, Malone reportedly has been constantly skating hard, working out, and working on his game hoping for another chance. Well that chance to prove himself has come, as just last week reports surfaced that the New York Rangers have invited Malone to camp on a tryout basis.
If the 34 year old can turn around his career and personal life, and get back to his 40 points per season ways, like he consistently did with the Penguins and in the beginning of his 7 year deal with the Lightning, Malone would certainly be an upgrade to the Rangers bottom six forwards. Malone would give the Rangers a lot more size and when he is on his game, and his head is on straight, he is a very effective gritty forward who can put the puck in the net and make plays.
Now as of right now Malone does not have a contract with the Rangers but let’s just say he impresses and the Rangers do sign him. Many fans believe that a Malone signing would mean that Tanner Glass, an enforcer who can skate a little but cannot do much else besides fight, would be automatically scratched from the starting lineup to make room for Malone.
I, however, just do not see that. With the Rangers giving Glass a 3 year deal, worth $1.45 million per year, during this offseason, I do not see how or why they would scratch that contract from the starting lineup without giving Glass some fair playing time to prove himself.
Instead of Glass, I think if the Rangers sign Malone that this move could impact J.T. Miller more than anyone. Miller, right now, is projected to be the Rangers 3rd line center, but with highly touted prospect Kevin Hayes, who can play center, just signing with the Rangers last month, plus the fact that Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault criticized and was not too happy with Miller last season for his shoddy play at the NHL level, maybe it is Miller that could be in jeopardy of losing his roster spot if the Rangers sign Malone. And if Miller is in danger of losing his roster spot then who really knows how much the Rangers actually believe in him. His future with the Rangers could then end up as a trading piece instead of a mainstay.
Now none of this is official, just my opinion and something to think about. What do you think?