Possible Trade Options for Pittsburgh Penguins
The Pittsburgh Penguins are the best team in the Eastern Conference, according to their record. Take one glance at their growing injured reserve list, though, and you'll start to see a more complete picture.
Within a weak Metropolitan Division, they are far and way the top team—the 45-year old French Bordeaux next to a pile of Bota Boxes. While skating with the likes of the New York Islanders (22-30-8) or the New Jersey Devils (24-22-13), Pittsburgh looks strong.
The list of needs must be mildly staggering, even to a trade deadline master like Ray Shero. With no Pascal Dupuis until the start of the 2014-15 season (and maybe longer), Sidney Crosby could use another top-line winger to play with.
The internal answer of Beau Bennett is still several weeks away, leaving Shero in search of another option.
Kris Letang is recovering following a horrifying stroke, the details of which are only now starting to become known. There's no set return date for the top-end offensive defenseman. Coupled with the loss of Paul Martin for four-to-six weeks, Pittsburgh's blue line could use a boost.
On top of all that, with a perfectly healthy roster it's likely that Shero would like to add some scoring depth as well. With so many trade rumors floating around ahead of the March 5 deadline, there may be a few fits for Pittsburgh to consider.
Don't look for them to land a big fish like Martin St. Louis or Ryan Kesler. The Penguins moved four draft picks and three prospects at the deadline last season in an all-in effort, and isn't likely to take that plunge again.
Still, there are a few potential rentals worth inquiring about in the coming days.
All statistics appear courtesy of NHL.com and are accurate through games played on February 26.
David Legwand to Play on the Third Line
David Legwand was drafted into the NHL as a highly-touted scoring machine. As a member of the Nashville Predators, he has since evolved into a strong two-way center that can play in all three zones. The 33-year-old is the all-time games played leader in Nashville, yet he hasn't had any contract extension discussions yet.
He spoke to Josh Cooper of The Tennessean recently and revealed the following:
We aren't anywhere. Nothing has been said to either side. Obviously a stalemate, I guess. Obviously something has to be said to figure out where to start or where not to start, and nothing has been said.
It's strange that general manager David Poile hasn't spoken to Legwand about a new deal, which has only fed the trade rumor fire. While the center hasn't been directly connected to Pittsburgh, he would fill a big need.
Brandon Sutter hasn't been the third-line center that Pittsburgh was hoping for, and Legwand could provide a boost to a line that has struggled to produce this season. Worth noting is that he has a no-trade clause, but it's rational to think that he'd waive it for a shot at the Stanley Cup with the Penguins.
Brad Boyes as Crosby's New Winger
After not being welcomed back to the New York Islanders, Brad Boyes was given a chance to make the Florida Panthers as a walk on. He had a strong training camp and was offered a one-year deal. Boyes has since become one of the team's only goal-scoring threats.
With 15 tallies this season and more than 180 goals scored at the NHL level, Boyes knows how to finish. Unfortunately, he's not exactly a stud in all three zones. While it's true that the Panthers aren't looking to "blow things up," it's not inconceivable that they'd part with Boyes for a reasonable cost.
He could line up with Crosby on the right side and do some damage, but Boyes isn't cut out for a depth role. Like Legwand, he hasn't been connected to the Penguins directly, but he's the kind of player they could look to add within the coming days.
Max Talbot to Add Some Grit
When the Colorado Avalanche were looking to get rid of problem child Steve Downie, the best deal they could wrangle was picking up Max Talbot from the Philadelphia Flyers. He's actually seen his average ice time increase in Denver, but he's been connected to the Penguins since the beginning of the new year.
He's a role player and a known commodity in Pittsburgh.
It's been a few seasons since he laced up the skates and took the ice wearing black and gold, but he'd fit in on this roster the same way that he did back in 2011. With the Penguins in need of some sort of identity for their bottom-six, Talbot would be a great pickup that might not cost a prospect or first-round pick.
Colorado might not be willing to part with him since they seem to have a good mix of skilled players and grinders, but if Pittsburgh dangles a young defender, then they may bite.
Steve Ott as a Home Run Ringer
The rumored cost for Steve Ott is high. If it's true that the Buffalo Sabres are looking to acquire a first-round pick and another prospect for their captain, then the value of getting him into a Penguins sweater just isn't worth the price.
But, if Buffalo comes down off of that demand a bit as the deadline nears, then perhaps Ott is the kind of guy that Pittsburgh could use. Just imagine him down low creating space and time for Crosby.
No particular teams have been linked to the 31-year-old—including the Penguins—but Shero would be doing himself a favor by at least inquiring about the warrior. He's the kind of player that can really take a Cup contender to another level.
He draws penalties, scores goals and has a strong veteran presence. It'd be strange to see Ott skating for Pittsburgh instead of against, but at the right cost he'd be a stellar addition.
Blake Wheeler in a True "Hockey Move"
Shero has said all season long that he'd prefer to make a hockey trade instead of bringing in a rental. Well, here's your hockey trade.
Wheeler fits the bill of what the Penguins could use in their top-six. He'll be able to fill in as a top-line guy this season and whenever Pascal Dupuis slips to the third line—something that will happen eventually given his age.
Tack on the fact that Dan Bylsma spent plenty of time scouting Wheeler prior to the Winter Games, and there could be a match. He wouldn't come cheaply, but his $5.6 million cap hit won't look nearly as bad when the ceiling rises next year.
Pittsburgh would have to give up some outstanding assets to make this happen, but Wheeler would be an awesome addition to the roster. It's unclear whether or not the Winnipeg Jets would want to make any changes based on how the squad has played since the coaching change, but there could be enough to gain for them to consider it.