5 Deals the Pittsburgh Penguins Must Consider Before NHL Trade Deadline
5 Deals the Pittsburgh Penguins Must Consider Ahead of the NHL Trade Deadline
One of the teams that is always active around the NHL trade deadline is the Pittsburgh Penguins. General manager Ray Shero has made a reputation for himself by pulling off deals at the deadline that steal headlines. Last year the big name was Jarome Iginla, but his impact was minimal. The Penguins have maintained a substantial lead in their division but will surely be looking at available deals. However, their ability to overcome injuries this year shows the Penguins are a contender regardless of moves made after the Olympics. No one should fault Shero if he stays away from the big names and backs the current roster.
The organization has been built with depth on the blue line, and the play of Olli Maatta has solidified the top five spots. Matt Niskanen continues to play well after being in trade speculation before the season started. Deryk Engelland has played on the wing this year while Roberto Bortuzzo is cementing his role in the last defensive pairing with physical play. Roster makeup became a bit more foggy for Shero this past week as it was revealed that Kris Letang suffered a stroke on a western road trip. Letang will be out at least six weeks although three of those will include the winter break. Even with the news on Letang, the Penguins organization has depth on defense with Scott Harrington, Brian Dumoulin, Simon Depres and Brendan Mikkelson playing for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
If Shero does attempt to make a trade there are two areas he will look. The injury to Pascal Dupuis has made one wing alongside Sidney Crosby a bit of a revolving door. Crosby favors right-handed right wingers, but Shero will have to look at more details than that to make a trade for a fitting winger. The Penguins could also use a depth forward. Tanner Glass has come to life of late, but it's always good to have another spark plug on the third or fourth line.
If this is the year Shero is quiet it would make sense. With money tied up in Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Letang and Marc-Andre Fleury it is hard to believe they would be looking for anything other than rental players. They have the parts to make a run on the roster. Shero is busier than normal with other business at this time of the year as the acting general manager for Team USA in the Olympics. He will have a week after the games to make his moves with the deadline set for Mar. 5.
Still, it is not like the Penguins organization to be quiet as the deadline approaches. Here are five guys that could fill one the previously mentioned roles for the Penguins.
5. Mikael Samuelsson
This would be an easy trade to make if the Penguins want to add Mikael Samuelsson to the third or fourth line. He was put on waivers at the end of January by the Detroit Red Wings and played his first game in the AHL in 13 years. It is clear that he is not in the plans for Detroit being a healthy scratch 13 times this year after spending much of last season injured. He will get some playing time with the Grand Rapids Griffins during the Olympic break and could get his legs back under him. He is three years removed from a 50-point season and could still be a depth winger for a playoff team.
4. Ray Whitney
With the Dallas Stars sitting out of playoff contention in the superior Western Conference, they may be looking to shop some of their veterans. Ray Whitney is no stranger to trade speculation being a 41-year-old veteran who has played for eight teams. His ice time and production are down under Lindy Ruff. He could provide needed secondary scoring for the Penguins in a system that would fit his game much better. The pure rental player would surely love to have another shot at the cup.
3. Devin Setoguchi
When the Winnipeg Jets acquired Devin Setoguchi this past summer they were looking for an offensive punch and consistent play. He has managed to tally 25 points despite a seven-game scoreless streak in January. Unfortunately Setoguchi is ninth in goals on the Jets and has a .092 shooting percentage. He has brought a physical presence to the team recording 119 hits which is good for fourth on the team. This goes well with his 16 penalty minutes on the whole season. That sounds like a good back end winger option.
2. Brad Boyes
Playing well at the trade deadline is one way to get noticed by other teams, and Brad Boyes has been impressive during the last month of the NHL season. Boyes had a four-game point streak going at the beginning of the month and has been one of the more consistent players for the Florida Panthers. He would surely welcome a trade to a contender having spent his recent years ending his season early with subpar teams. If he is being offered by the Panthers, more than one team would give him a look.
1. Matt Moulson
Fans love to question the moves made by their favorite teams, but when the Buffalo Sabres acquired Matt Moulson from the New York Islanders in the Thomas Vanek deal it was easy to see why. General manager Darcy Reiger was sure to ship Moulson off at the deadline to continue to rebuild his team, and that still seems very likely for new general manager Tim Murray and a sure-to-be active Buffalo team. Chris Botto has reported that at least a dozen teams are interested in Moulson who has been on the Penguins' fans radar for years.
Moulson is currently recovering from an injury but should be ready to play as soon as the team reconvenes. Bidding will be heavy for Moulson who has a friendly contract and is easily one of the most enticing rental players on the block. He leads the Sabres in points this season. The Los Angeles Kings are one of the other teams interested.