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Friedman weighs in with Marc-Andre Fleury trade talk

Canadian columnist Elliotte Friedman gives some thoughts on the Pittsburgh Penguins and Marc-Andre Fleury from a league-wide perspective.

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In his latest 30 Thoughts, Elloitte Friedman had a few nuggets and commentary notes on the Penguins. As always, pretty interesting stuff:

13. One team we haven’t heard much from is Pittsburgh, but I think that will change. The Penguins are a legit threat to repeat and, at some point, GM Jim Rutherford is going to try and add. Remember his history. He prefers not to wait until the deadline.

14. Most expectations are that he will try to add a defender. Kris Letang is out a couple of weeks, and hasn’t played a full season since 2010–11. He’s a great player for sure, but if the Penguins could change one thing about him it would be that he emulate the likes of Drew Doughty and Ryan Suter, who find ways to manage the wear and tear on their bodies in-game.

If you watch the two of them, there are moments (mostly score-dictated) where they know it’s not the time to take or give up a hit, because they do it plenty. Pittsburgh would like to see Letang do more of that. Purely a self-preservation tactic.

15. The obvious name is Marc-Andre Fleury. Rutherford and coach Mike Sullivan have admitted the challenge of having two No. 1 goalies, both saying it’s tougher than they expected.

Fleury, a fierce competitor, wants to play, and the organization respects that. There are a couple of things to address with him. First, the Penguins have to decide if they are better with him on the roster until the end of the season. He’s a tremendous insurance policy in case Matt Murray gets hurt. Winning a second straight Cup should take priority over expansion draft protection.

Second, even though there are 17 teams he can be traded to without permission (18 if you count Las Vegas), the sense is the Penguins will make sure they do right by him.

16. The perfect fit is Dallas. The Stars have an empty crease after next season, and Fleury is eligible for an extension on July 1, 2018. You always look for patterns, and don’t forget the Stars extended Jason Spezza not long after trading for him. I’m just not sure what the trade would be.

The other move flowing through my head was a Winnipeg deal involving Jacob Trouba. That one could really help both sides. But I think DeMarcus Cousins has a better chance of winning the Good Guy Award from the Sacramento media. So don’t go crazy with it.

Friedman's perspective is a 30,000 foot one compared to those of us who think and banter about the pros and cons to trading (or not trading) Marc-Andre Fleury but it's still interesting to see such an informed perspective and another view of what we hear about Fleury's desire to play and the team having to weigh all their factors.

Suggesting Dallas is certainly nothing new, however they do have two high-priced goalies. Given Rutherford's penchant for goalie depth, would the Penguins be willing to take on Antti Niemi as part of the return.. Niemi has a $4.5 million cap hit this season and next, which would also satisfy their requirement to have a veteran goalie exposed for expansion. I'm not really sure either what other kind of upgrade the Penguins could get, Dallas isn't exactly stocked with great, cheap defensive players.

The Trouba note seems like a dream come true, especially since he's under contract now for the Jets for two years, the urgency for them to have to trade him at this point seems very low. But if Rutherford could somehow pull that deal off, it would sure be another major coup for the Pens.

Of course, the Pens still have to determine if now is the right time for a Fleury trade and the answer to that might be a legitimate no. After all, a lot of folks and pundits expected a Fleury trade this past summer, and fortunately Pittsburgh did not, being as Matt Murray broke his thumb and missed a month's worth of time at the beginning of the season. Murray's started the majority of the games since he's been healthy, but keeping Fleury as an ace-in-the-hole for backup purposes could well be the smart play.

Friedman also had an interesting note about Sidney Crosby:

8. One of the theories around Sidney Crosby’s increased goal scoring is that he realized at the World Cup he doesn’t need to carry the puck all the time. That opened his eyes to the possibilities, what can occur if he still goes to the dangerous areas even without the puck. For evidence, just look at the 1–0 goal from Tuesday’s 7–2 win over the Rangers.

It does seem like Crosby has hung around the goal more this year for deflection goals or to collect a loose puck/rebound for goals. Probably one reason he's got a ridiculously high shooting percentage this season when he's shooting a lot of high percentage shots.