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The Evgeni Malkin to the Blackhawks trade rumor won't go away, but it's still crazy

The rumor that won't go away.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

UPDATE: TSN's Bob McKenzie said Tuesday there's no merit to it and the trade is "not even being talked about." And after that, Pittsburgh GM Jim Rutherford put down the official kibosh by saying the team isn't looking to trade Malkin and hasn't been contacted by any other team about it. Maybe the Hawks had an internal discussion about it or something, but it seems like there's nothing here. So yeah, this was all indeed as crazy as it sounded.

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Alright, ready for this one? Here we go: The Chicago Blackhawks are "seriously kicking the tires" on a possible trade for Pittsburgh Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin, according to Newsday's Steve Zipay. A rumor JUST SO CRAZY IT MIGHT BE TRUE, this one won't disappear and Zipay's report is the latest to stoke the fire.

Of course, now it's time to throw some water on the whole thing. First, Zipay notes that the Hawks are merely "doing due diligence" in asking about Malkin, the kind of player any team would want. Second, a source told the Chicago Tribune's Chris Hine last week there was nothing to the rumors, although Hine put a caveat on that. And finally, there's that pesky salary cap, which means any trade would need to be a massive one with big salaries going both ways.

Okay! Caught your breath yet?

So there's a lot to unpack here, the most obvious being the unlikelihood that a trade actually takes place. Malkin has a cap hit of $9.5 million through the 2021-22 season and would be almost impossible to fit into the Hawks' salary cap situation. Presumably any potential deal with Pittsburgh would involve some big salaries (Seabrook? Anisimov? Kruger?) going the other way, but there would still be tons to sort out, including no-movement clauses. It just seems hard to believe the two cap-strapped sides could actually pull something like this off. Chicago's cap situation was already challenging and adding Malkin would probably make it worse.

It's also worth pointing out reports like Hine's, which signal there's smoke, but no fire, as well as the sheer improbability that the Penguins would have any interest in this. Why move Malkin? And if so, would the Blackhawks really be the team capable of offering the most appealing package for the 29-year-old? Pittsburgh's end of this bargain doesn't seem clear, even once you get past the idea of Chicago potentially having $30.5 million in cap space tied up in three players.

And yet, this idea keeps coming up, and now it's getting mainstream press. The reporters who say they haven't heard anything about it don't really seem to be dismissing the possibility. There's also a possible expansion draft aspect to this given all of Chicago's no-movement clauses, although you'd still need to improbably convince a player to waive his to get dealt now.

This is a wild, dizzying, absurd rumor, and it's very, very hard to see how any of this actually comes to fruition. However, it's mid-June, it's hot outside, we need something to talk about and people don't seem to be dismissing the possibility of Malkin to Chicago. Don't get your hopes up, certainly not after Hine's report, but weirder things have happened.