The 2013 Trade Deadline is oh so close. As we are now under a week away from the trade deadline, as such I will continue what’s been a fun series of informative previews leading up to the most entertaining day in hockey nerd television. As I’ve said in past articles, it’s becoming increasingly obvious who will make the playoffs or who won’t. Who will be sellers and buyers, and who won’t.
With this knowledge of who’s likely to be in and who isn’t the wheeling and dealing has started to pick up. Big names that were once franchise faces in Brenden Morrow and Jarome Iginla have already been dealt, as have some quality blueliners like Douglas Murray and Jordan Leopold. If these kinds of players are going -Douglas Murray aside - for as little as they are, I have to believe there are more moves on the way. Leading up to April 3rd expect a flurry of previews for this deadline arms race.
Today’s centers on the most active team to this point, the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins and their general manager Ray Shero have turned an already great team into the clear Stanley Cup Favorites in a matter of one short week. Shero did this by adding Douglas Murray, Brenden Morrow and Jarome Iginla without losing a single roster player in the process. Following the Iginla trade they were Vegas favorites to win the cup with 4:1 odds. That number almost seems generous to the rest of the league if you ask me. The Penguins now sport arguably two first lines and the league’s best third. It’s just not fair.
Don’t you go thinking the Penguins are done though. Shero has always been one of the more active, and successful, GM’s in all of the league. He will also have around $18M in cap space at his disposal to keep adding pieces. Necessary or not. If that wasn’t enough to get the already trigger happy Shero working 6 phones during the deadline, injuries to Kris Letang, Marc-Andre Fleury, Paul Martin, and Sidney Crosby surely will. Below you’ll find a list of player’s likely to be on the Penguins short list, and the player’s they might have to give up to get them.
Raffi Torres: You would think that the additions of Iginla and Morrow brought enough physicality to an already strong group of forwards, but as Michelle Pfeiffer says in Scarface “nothing exceeds like excess”. Torres takes no prisoners. Much like current Penguin, Matt Cooke, Torres has reformed his game though to hurt people in a much cleaner, less suspended fashion. The road to the Stanley Cup will almost surely mean the Penguins going through Boston at some point and having a guy like Torres will certainly help out in dealing with all of their tomfoolery.
Mark Letestu: The Blue Jackets are in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race, but they have to come back down to earth at some point. Hopefully before April 3rd. If they do, I imagine they’ll be shipping pending UFA’s out of town for draft picks. Don’t be all that surprised if one of those players is Letestu, and he’s sent back to the team where his career started, the Penguins. Would provide great scoring depth and could play reliably on the third line.
Ruslan Fedotenko: Where Fedotenko goes, Stanley Cups follow. Like the one he got with Pittsburgh back in 08-09. Few players in the NHL raise their game in the playoffs quite like Fedotenko. His experience, leadership, grit and reliability would make him a great addition on Pittsburgh’s third line.
Tyler Kennedy: If there’s one weak link in Pittsburgh’s top nine forwards, it has to be Kennedy. He is also an RFA at the end of the year, and the salary cap is set to drop. It makes perfect sense that if any Penguins roster players are to be dealt at the deadline, he will likely be among them.
Ladislav Smid: With injuries to Paul Martin, and Kris Letang the Penguins could be in the market for more defensemen. Smid is a solid stay at home defenseman who, when I last checked, led the Oilers in hits and blocked shots. He couldn’t replace the offense that Martin and Letang brought this season, but would be reliable in his own end and killing penalties.
Robyn Regehr: Would be a more experienced, more expensive and slightly better version of Ladislav Smid. A lot bigger too. Regehr would be a great pickup for the Penguins, and would much like Murray, slide into the bottom pairing and provide stability in their own end.
You can follow J.D. Burke for more hockey commentary, stats, tweets, etc. @WeveGotTwins and find his blog at We've Got Twins