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Pittsburgh Penguins trade rumors: All is well, remain calm!

The Pittsburgh Penguins have a lot of injuries right now and that's precisely why they can't go out and emotionally make a trade to help a short-term problem with a potentially costly solution.

Lots of pain
Lots of pain
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Patric Hornqvist got crunched last night, didn't return to the game and his status is unknown but the possibility of an always dreadful head injury looms in the balance. Pascal Dupuis' status is totally known- he has a blood clot in his lung and is out six month, if not longer. Chris Kunitz has a fracture in his foot and is out for "a couple of weeks". Beau Bennett, who is always hurt, is hurt.

Ladies and gentleman your best four wingers on the Pittsburgh Penguins, all on the shelf.

So now, I'm reminded of the movie Animal House. In the climactic scene, with all hell breaking loose around him, the dorky Kevin Bacon character implores "All is well! Remain calm!" when it's clear that nothing is well and panic has taken over.

That's the feeling among Penguins fans right now, and for good reason. The top four wingers on the team right now are Nick Spaling, Steve Downie, Blake Comeau and Jayson Megna, unless the team moves to play Brandon Sutter out of position as a winger, where he has traditionally struggled mightily.

With that, there's good reason not to be too optimistic about the Pens short-term chances of winning a lot of games. They looked poor last night against a very strong (and deep) Vancouver team that skated circles around them. But the Pens also didn't finish chances- think Crosby's wide open net on the power play, or the mini-breakaway that Sid tried a weak five-hole shot on. Or Sutter failing to convert on another short-handed breakaway chance. The opportunities were there, the finish wasn't.

The calls to make a trade to provide support for Crosby and Evgeni Malkin will now reach a fever pitch- particularly if Hornqvist will miss any length of time. However, general manager Jim Rutherford has to be very cautious and think about the big picture- which means having a good team in April and May, and not rushing to fix a problem in December that might hinder the long-term goals.

I like how Dejan Kovacevic put it in his column today. I'll put a little piece here if you don't subscribe to DK:

General managers around the league have been calling the Penguins' front office, I was told at Consol in the hours leading up to the 3-0 throttling by the Canucks on Thursday night, and it's wholly because they smell blood with the recent injury losses of Pascal Dupuis and Chris Kunitz.

And this was before Patric Hornqvist was felled on a hellacious hit by Vancouver's Ryan Stanton in the second period and did not return.

Preying by GMs is par for the course in professional sports but, even in that context, according to this source, the approaches to the Penguins in recent days have been "coming nonstop."

But here's the catch: As I'd expressed hope in the Wednesday column, Jim Rutherford and his staff are taking a no-thanks stance on all Band-Aid offers. They aren't looking at making any major moves aimed at addressing short-term injuries. That doesn't mean they'd turn down something that made sense in terms of cap space and value sent out - and by that, a move that would be legit even if the roster was healthy - but I'd be thinking more in the lane of Zach Boychuk, if you will.

Sorry, just dropped a Boychuk bomb on you there. Won't happen again.

Anyway, that's the thinking, and not even Hornqvist being out - if he's out - will change it. The priority is hanging onto those assets until they have real value, both in return and in timing. Dealing now is dealing from weakness, and it's dealing to help ... what, winning games in December?

Does anyone really think a handful of losses now will keep the Penguins out of the playoffs?

The answer to the last question is obvious. The Pens are off to a great start- but more importantly the rest of the division (minus the resurgent Islanders) all are very mediocre, at best. Pittsburgh will coast to the playoffs with or without good wingers right now.

There could be hope though- Kunitz will return in a few weeks. Hornqvist, who knows, but hopefully will be feeling better quickly- and he is a player who has absorbed a lot of punishment in his career without missing a ton of games. Bennett may be back soon too from another knee injury, but we all know that his presence in the lineup shouldn't be counted on for very long. Still, it could be a pleasant surprise, and the Pens could use that, for once.

Either way, ideally three of the four missing Pens should be back in the near future. Same with defenseman Kris Letang, who will be out at least another 7-10 days with a groin injury. Getting Letang back will help the offense and power play as well. By Christmas the Pens injury woes won't look too terrible- assuming that no one else gets hurt too.

It didn't end so well for poor Kevin Bacon in Animal House, he got trampled by the mob of panicked bystanders. If Rutherford makes a desperate trade out of a short-term need, he might put the Penguins in that same position, figuratively speaking. Luckily Rutherford has made cautious statements and is experienced enough to know that right now he is vulnerable and prone to lackluster trade offers that won't help- in a salary cap world where it's difficult to make major trades during the season where virtually every team still believes they can make a playoff push.

In that regard, even though it won't be a lot of fun to watch the Penguins struggle with all of their best wingers sidelined, Pens fans will just have to pretend "all is well" until some of their best players get well.