Under general manager Ray Shero, the Pittsburgh Penguins have never been afraid to make a few deals to gear up for the playoffs. While nothing is imminent, with the Olympics breaking up a lot of the month of February, it's time to at least think of what's up.
You can't get a good idea of the future without seeing the past, so here's some notable, near deadline deals:
- February 26, 2007: Pens acquire Gary Roberts for Noah Welch
- February 27, 2007: Pens acquire Georges Laraque for Daniel Carcillo and a 3rd round pick
- February 27, 2007: Pens trade Dominic Moore for a 3rd round pick
- February 26, 2008: Pens acquire Hal Gill for a 2nd and 5th round pick
- February 26, 2008: Pens acquire Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis for Colby Armstrong, Erik Christensen, Angelo Esposito and a 1st round pick
- February 26, 2009: Pens acquire Chris Kunitz and Eric Tangradi for Ryan Whitney
- March 4th, 2009: Pens acquire Bill Guerin for a conditional pick (3rd round)
Other than the Hossa blockbuster, the Pens have made their trading mark generally middling moves to add pieces here or there by giving up draft picks and non-NHL players. Keeping that in mind, who may be targeted this season to be added to Pittsburgh for the stretch run?
First of all, this season may be one of the most difficult for Shero to operate. He's again got a very limited amount of cap space to work with, though as the season dwindles it opens up the window a little more to bring in a higher ticket guy.
Also there may not be many sellers: in the Eastern Conference the team currently in 13th place (Tampa) is only six points back of the 8th place Montreal Canadiens and Tampa has four games in hand! Out in the West it's a little more top-heavy among the top 10 or 11 teams, but a club like St. Louis (with a new coach) remembers their great run last year and probably won't be a pure seller either. There's no doubt it's a short market.
As of now, it's probably fair to say that only Carolina, Toronto and Edmonton are really "dead in the water" with virtually no playoff hopes. Teams like Columbus, St. Louis, Anaheim and Tampa are clinging to hopes of a turnaround, but if/when they keep losing those teams too might be looking to reload veterans for young players/picks for the future.
Keeping it to those modest terms, which players might be attractive options for Pittsburgh?
#13 / Left Wing / Carolina Hurricanes
May 08, 1972
Cap hit: $3.55 million dollars (expires 2009-10)
|2009 - Ray Whitney||41||13||16||29||-8||16||3||0||3||0||86||15.1|
Yay: He's a winger with offensive ability and since the lockout he's been scoring at almost a point per game rate. He's a Stanley Cup winner (with Carolina in 2006) and has over 1000 games of NHL experience to add. Since his contract is expiring, he's likely to be a guy that Carolina will listen to offers for.
Nay: His $3.55 million salary likely means the Pens would have to atleast send an NHL player back to stay under the salary cap. Whitney's turning 38 in May and his under-sized frame means he could be Mark Recchi version 2.0 for the Pens.
#59 / Left Wing / Carolina Hurricanes
Mar 27, 1982
Cap hit: $1.7 million (expires 2010-11)
|2009 - Chad LaRose||28||1||5||6||-14||12||0||0||0||0||73||1.4|
Yay: Larose is a speedy winger who opened a lot of eyes in the 2008-09 playoffs when he scored 11 points in 18 games and was a dangerous weapon for Carolina. He's got a knack for scoring goals and has the speed to be a Top 6 winger for Pittsburgh.
Nay: Is small, has been hurt this season (as reflected in his stats above) and is signed through next season, so Carolina might not be terribly interested in trading him. Also his career highs are only 19 goals and 31 points (both last season) so it isn't like he's an established weapon.
#12 / Right Wing / Toronto Maple Leafs
Feb 04, 1983
Cap hit: $2.5 million (expires 2009-10; UFA)
|2009 - Lee Stempniak||46||11||13||24||-4||10||4||1||1||0||132||8.3|
Yay: Stempniak has some skill (27 goals, 52 points in 06-07) that could improve the Pens forwards as a classic rental with a managable cap hit.
Nay: Brian Burke may not be ready to be a "seller" and go back on his tough talk about playoffs. Also Stempniak has exactly 0 NHL playoff games and seems like a guy to go cold at times production wise.
#41 / Left Wing / Toronto Maple Leafs
Jul 14, 1986
Cap hit: $1.488 million (expires 2009-10, RFA)
|2009 - Nikolai Kulemin||42||7||8||15||-3||6||0||1||0||0||74||9.5|
Yay: Kulemin is a former line-mate of Evgeni Malkin's back in Russia, where the two had chemistry. He hasn't been great in Toronto and doesn't seem to fit the mold of Brian Burke tough-nosed hockey. Kulemin could be a long-term answer to the problem of skilled wingers in Pittsburgh.
Nay: He's young and the price to pay would be steep -- probably steeper than Shero may be willing to trade back. Kulemin also hasn't been through the NHL playoff grind and it's debatable if his style would mesh with Pittsburgh's aggressive puck-possession cycling game.
#34 / Right Wing / Edmonton Oilers
Dec 27, 1976
Cap hit: $2.5 million (expires 2009-10; UFA)
|2009 - Fernando Pisani||8||1||0||1||-1||8||0||0||0||0||8||12.5|
Yay: Famously scored 14 goals in Edmonton's SC run in 2006, has decent size.
Nay: Injury and his ulcerative colitis has limited him to just 102 games since the start of the 2007-08 season. Hasn't been a consistent point producer throughout his whole career.
#8 / Right Wing / Anaheim Ducks
Jul 03, 1970
Cap hit: $2.625 million (expires 2009-10; UFA)
|2009 - Teemu Selanne||28||15||7||22||-7||14||7||0||4||0||81||18.5|
Yay: Experience. Selanne has 1160 NHL games and 1234 points under his belt. He's got more powerplay goals than any Penguin this season, so he still has something to add in the skill department. Also a reasonable cap hit that the Pens could work. Is a Stanley Cup champion and has generally been a good playoff performer.
Nay: Age and durability. Selanne turns 40 over the summer and has played just 119 games since the start of the 2007-08 season. Does he have enough in the tank and the will to tough it out for one more run?
Again, those are just some glamour picks that may fit the Penguins need and the basic need of identifying some likely teams that'll be looking to deal vets. Working under the cap and with an understanding of what other clubs will be looking for in return, who do you hope the Pens target in the coming weeks? Any names out there that weren't touched on above yet?