It's one of the best parts of the year for fans of contending teams- it's the NHL trade deadline time. Top teams are looking for that extra piece to hopefully load them up for a deep playoff run and the disappointing teams are looking to shed veteran free-agents-to-be for futures of young players and draft picks to rebuild their franchises.
Prerequisite to this piece should be reading Mike Colligan's Trade Deadline Gameplan, where he lays out the Penguins salary cap situation, and how it ties to Sidney Crosby and how the market this year may not be very favorable for GM Ray Shero to swing his customary huge trade.
With that in mind, who are some guys that could be on the market for the right price? And what's a good idea of what that price and more.
#12 / Left Wing / Tampa Bay Lightning
Dec 01, 1979
$4.5 million cap hit through 2014-15
2011-12 stat line: 42 games 27 points (10 goals, 17 assists)
Potential, suggested reasonable trade: Malone to Pittsburgh for Paul Martin
Why it could happen: Malone would still have three years on his contract at $4.5 million dollars, but hey, this is an NHL where Brooks Laich, Erik Cole, Martin Erat and Tomas Fleischmann have long-term $4.5 million per year salaries. You gonna tell me Malone makes them look that bad? Injury history aside, I'd take Bugsy back for that price, given where the salary cap is set and the climate of other forwards around the league. Malone's big, tough, rugged, has a history in Pittsburgh, etc.
Why it couldn't happen: The Pens need to sign James Neal this off-season and swapping one big contract for another isn't going to help much. Also, who knows it Tampa will be looking to actually increase their payroll by adding Martin. Easy to see them just preferring to stick with Malone and hope they can address their defense through another avenue. Also, as crazy as it may sound to Pens fans, GM Ray Shero may not want to trade Martin for a forward and damage his defensive depth this season.
#83 / Right Wing / Edmonton Oilers
Aug 13, 1983
$4.1 million cap hit through 2011-12 (UFA)2011-12 stat line: 43 games 24 points (4 goals, 20 assists)
Potential, suggested reasonable trade: Hemsky to Pittsburgh for Tyler Kennedy, Brian Strait OR Robert Bortuzzo and a 1st round pick
Why it could happen: Hemsky would add a lot of skill to the Pens, and he's been an oft rumored (but never traded) player for years now. Close your eyes and picture the Kunitz/Malkin/Neal first line then a second line consisting of Ales Hemsky dishing passes to a healthy Sidney Crosby. Pretty tempting thought, and the trade deadline's all about dreaming the big dream.
Why it couldn't happen: The non-physical Hemsky is hardly in the mold of a North/South Dan Bylsma type winger. Very easy to imagine the Pens wouldn't be high on Hemsky just because of his style not meshing with the team. Also Edmonton's not been in a hurry to trade him and has publically talked more about re-signing Hemsky than trading him- which means the price could be higher than listed here.
#61 / Left Wing / Columbus Blue Jackets
Jun 16, 1984
$7.8 million cap hit through 2017-18 (UFA)2011-12 stat line: 57 games 39 points (18 goals, 21 assists)
Potential, suggested reasonable trade: On your xbox
Why it could happen: It couldn't.
Why it couldn't happen: Every reason in the world. The Pens are already a very top-heavy team with big money contracts for Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Marc-Andre Fleury. Adding another huge hit, not a great idea. And I can't see Columbus being too thrilled to sell their franchise for Jordan Staal and a couple of picks and prospects.
#32 / Left Wing / Montreal Canadiens
Apr 06, 1982
$1.5 million cap hit through 2011-12 (UFA)2011-12 stat line: 48 games 16 points (9 goals, 7 assists)
Potential, suggested reasonable trade: middle level prospect and/or a pick
Why it could happen: Classic UFA-to-be on a team not making the playoffs. Unlike Hemsky, Moen's physical style seems more fit for the Penguins in terms of his attitude on the ice and the way he plays the game.
Why it couldn't happen: Moen, while a physical player and a playoff-type performer (remember his 7 goals and 12 points in Anaheim's 2007 Cup run?) only has 52 goals in 572 career games. The Penguins have a bevy of checking line wingers and with a finite amount of space under the salary cap, are they really going to use it to acquire another non-descript, hard-working winger with a lack of scoring touch? (On second thought, maybe this rationale should go on the "why it will happen line").
#54 / Right Wing / Colorado Avalanche
Aug 10, 1984
$2.5 million cap hit through 2011-12 (UFA)2011-12 stat line: 48 games 23 points (12 goals, 11 assists)
Potential, suggested reasonable trade: Jones to Pittsburgh for Strait OR Bortuzzo. Or a mid-level forward prospect (think Brian Rust, Tom Kuhnhackl, Ban Hanowski, etc)
Why it could happen: Jones has size and scored 27 goals last season, so he's got some measure of hands too. Though close observers of the Avs say he's had a somewhat disappointing season this year, plugging Jones into the Pens lineup adds a little more offensive punch then currently found in top 6 wingers (outside of James Neal and Chris Kunitz, natch). Also Colorado probably would be willing to deal Jones at the deadline if the right deal came along.
Why it couldn't happen: As always- price. If Colorado insisited on a prospect the Pens didn't want to give up, or if Shero feels like the player is more Alexei Ponikarovsky than Chris Kunitz, it might be dead from the Pens side of the equation just as quickly.