Sunday, March 10, 2013

Pittsburgh Penguins: Potential Trade Deadline Targets

     Arguably the most chaotic day of the NHL is the trade deadline. This year, it may even be more so as a majority of teams may still be buyers as opposed to sellers due to the shortened season. As a fan of the Pittsburgh Penguins I wait and wonder anxiously as to who the Penguins trade for as they will be primed for a deep run in the playoffs. Here is a list of several players who have had received reported interest from Pittsburgh, and giving my take on some players on whether or not I actually see the Penguins strongly pursuing and trading for these said players at the trade deadline.

     Sergei Gonchar (Ottawa)- Gonchar addresses the issue for a puck moving defenseman and someone to "quarterback" the powerplay, Pittsburgh may wait until the off-season to go after Gonchar as there has been reported interest from both parties for him to return to the Penguins. Only thing that may make the Penguins hesitate about bringing him back at this moment is his $5.5 million cap hit.(When Gonchar enters FA this off-season, Pittsburgh can sign him at a much more reasonable price without a big hit to their salary cap)

     Jack Johnson (Columbus)- Though he is a puck moving defenseman, which is one of Pittsburgh's interests and needs, I do not see Pittsburgh trading for him.  Unlike with Sergei Gonchar where he will become a FA and the Pens could sign him in the off-season for a much more reasonable price. Johnson's cap hit is not too bad, at just a little over $4 million, I do not think he will be one of Pittsburgh's first choices come the trade deadline as the Penguins would likely part away with young talent of their own. But on the off chance that the Penguins would trade for him, what and who would Pittsburgh have to give in return for a relatively young Johnson who has not even reached his prime yet?

     Jay Bouwmeester (Calgary)- I do not see Pittsburgh welcoming Bouwmeester's contract with open arms with a hit at over $6.6 million. 0% chance of this happening.

     Jordan Leopold (Buffalo)- Leopold had a previous stint with Pittsburgh before, albeit a short one. That being said, Leopold is a good shutdown defenseman and has an offensive upside to him as well. Leopold's cap hit of $3 million is very reasonable and may be the player the Penguins are looking for to toughen up the defense and also provide scoring depth.

    Robyn Regehr (Buffalo)- Pittsburgh is also reportedly interested in another defenseman from Bufflao, that being Regehr. He may not necessarily provide scoring depth like his counterpart Jordan Leopold, Regeher would give Pittsburgh big body, with his strong defence and physical ability.

     Jarome Iginla (Calgary)- A lot of buzz has been going around about Iginla coming to Pittsburgh and pairing up with fellow Canadian Sidney Crosby. Iginla and Crosby already have established chemistry as evident of the 2010 Winter Olympics. Iginla would quickly make the Penguins become Stanley Cup favorites. In addition, he would provide Pittsburgh with veteran leadership, much like Bill Guerin did a few years ago! The only question is, will the Penguins be willing to take on his $7 million cap hit and what would Pittsburgh have to give up in order to obtain him? On top of that, would Pittsburgh be able to re-sign him in the off-season?

     Nate Thompson (Tampa Bay)- Thompson would be able to provide Pittsburgh with scoring depth as well providing a much needed boost for the Penalty Kill. He may not be one of Pittsburgh's first targets, but no doubt that he is on the Penguins radar.

     Ryane Clowe (San Jose)- Clowe's name has been mentioned and would most likely end up in Pittsburgh's top six pairing up with Evgeni Malkin and James Neal to provide size and scoring.

     Matt Cullen (Minnesota)- Cullen's name has come up in trade talks for Pittsburgh. Cullen would be able to provide veteran leadership, scoring depth, and solidify a quality 3rd line alongside Brandon Sutter and Matt Cooke.

     Devin Setoguchi (Minnesota)- Alongside Wild teammate Matt Cullen, Setoguchi has received reported interest from Pittsburgh for his services. If Setoguchi ends up in Pittsburgh, he would most likely be paired up Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz and provide the Penguins with a solid scoring sniper.

     I am no expert, nor do I claim to be, this is all just merely speculation. Hockey GM's eyes and ears will definitely be opened the next few weeks leading up to the trade deadline to figure out what they need to do to put their teams in the best position for a lengthy playoff run.

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