Short Version: What are the chances that a site's various sub-pages' page-ranks will suffer if a proper google sitemap is submitted for the first time?

Long Version: I'm working with a website that has some rather impressive organic page ranking on some of its sub-pages.

They've never submitted a sitemap to google, which has caused some of their primary sub-pages to be crawled rather infrequently (month-old data sometimes still shows on google search results, and a few of these are rather popular searches).

Furthermore, google still references some non-existing pages and visitors are visiting dead-links (I understand redirects would be ideal, where possible). The sitemap could let google know that those pages are no longer there.

Is there a way to communicate the information that can be communicated via google sitemaps without negatively affecting page-ranks throughout the site? I'm really concerned about shaking the boat too much and resetting some of the site's hard-earned Internet equity.

+1  A: 

My understanding is that by submitting a sitemap to a search engine such as google you are just ensuring that they know about these other pages on your site and can work their way though the list.

Why do you think submitting a sitemap will affect your page rank?

I thought that Googles page rank was (as well as others) based on eigenvector centrality. This is why backlinks are so important, especially those from related high-volume/respected sites.

Binary Nerd
We share a similar understanding. I'd much rather eliminate all uncertainty. Thanks for your advice