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Monday, February 3, 2014

Desktop GM: Despres to Colorado For.... by @ToonsBrian

There are only a few players in the Penguins system that many, including, the readers of PensInitiative would consider "on the market" this trading season. One major name that appears quite frequently is blue-chip defender Simon Despres.

For this edition of Desktop GM, we will actually look at two separate trade offers recieved this week involving the upstart Colorado Avalanche. The first, submitted by Kevin, would bring a potential 20 goal scorer to the Pens. The second, suggested by Ryan, would bring back a familiar face. Without further ado:

Pens send D Simon Despres to the Avalanche for F P.A. Parenteau
Pens send D Simon Despres to the Avalanche for F Maxime Talbot

The Players

P.A. Parenteau The skinny on Parenteau coming out of Colorado is that the talented Top-6 forward is on the trading block. Two helathy scratches in a row for the Avs and a reported interest from the Montreal Canadiens will help to fuel that fire, but with Parenteau having just returned from a knee injury, the weight those rumors carry varies.

    Either way, Parenteau is a Top 6 forward for the Avs. He's got great stick handling which translates to scoring opportunities. His passing is crisp. He's got a seemingly natural offensive ability. That formula was money in last year's shortened season, the first year of his current $4 million per year deal which extends through 2016, which saw him put up 18 goals.

    That iron has cooled a bit though, which could have more to do with his recent benching. Presently, he finds himself to be on pace for 15 goals and around 40 points. While he may excel on the power play when given ample time, his less than stellar skating ability puts him in positions to be knocked off the puck. His play with and without the puck - coupled with some great play from the Avs' youngsters - have given head coach Patrick Roy reason to feel justified for his recent benching.

Maxime Talbot Hey, remember this guy? If you don't, welcome to ice hockey and the NHL. We'll talk you through it.

    Max Talbot was traded from the Philadelphia Flyers to the Avalanche earlier this season, with tough guy Steve Downie heading east. What the Avs got in exchange for Downie was a 29 year old, high energy 3rd or 4th liner that excels in clutch situations and on the penalty kill.

    Talbot's style of play, some would call "reckless" while others would call "gutsy," has led to the injury-prone label being attached to him. His scoring production is inconsistent, even though he makes it count when he does.

The Tradeoff

Simon Despres is best classified as a blue-chip defenseman. He's got great upside but, given the current depth at defense Pittsburgh has, often finds himself on the outside of the lineup looking in. The kid can play, that much is certain. At 22, his development will be closely watched by nearly every team in the league.

    This season, Despres will enter the off-season as a restricted free agent. Among his strengths, scouts tend to note his size first. At 6'4", it's easy to see why. Also, as we've seen watching him develop, his ability to move the puck is top-notch and his offensive potential shows great promise for the future.

    Of course, nothing is ever certain with young players and Simon Despres does have some downside. He hasn't fully developed physically. He, at times, seems uncertain of himself. While showing great offensive potential, Despres hasn't shown signs of being able to handle power play quarterbacking duties, either.

    All in all, Simon Despres is the type of player that the Pens should be hesitant about simply trading away. However, given the defensive depth and the fact that the needs of the team could be addressed by moving him, it is easy to see him as almost inevitably being moved by the deadline.

The X Factor

The real X-Factor in a deal with the Avalanche would be found behind the bench. Many words could be used to describe Avs head coach Patrick Roy. Some of them even nice. Successful  is right at the top.

    The Avs were near the bottom of nearly every Central Division preview to start the season. However, Roy infused the team of youngsters to rally around him to shock the hockey world by dominating early in the season. Infusing a team made up of future stars like Matt Duchesne and Nate McKinnon with sky-high confidence requires a coach like Roy. He showed early in the season by acquiring Max Talbot that, even when things are going great, there is still opportunity to make a bold move to improve.

     Colorado needs defensive help. Rumblings through

     Whatever moves Roy makes now will carry that same motivation. He will make the team better. How he does that, only his mind and ego may know. 

     What we do know is Colorado is concerned with their defense.

The Salary Cap

    Since we're dealing with two potential trades this time around, two sets of numbers have to be looked at. In both cases, Colorado's $11.9 million dollars of space allows them the freedom to make just about any move they care to at this point.

    Parenteau has 3 more years left on his deal at a $4 million dollar AAV, while Simon Despres accounts for only $840,000 on his entry-level deal which ends this season. This trade going through would end up moving the Pens' salary cap space - including the LTIR allotment - to approximately $2.1 million.

    A Despres-for-Talbot trade would move that same $840,000 contract for Despres to Colorado while the Pens would take on Talbot's AAV of $1.75 million. The Pens would shoulder the difference of $910,000, leaving the team with $4.3 million of cap space following this transaction.


    Looking at these two separate trade offers, the most important thing to remember is that any transaction between two clubs must be mutually beneficial. The Pens will make the playoffs with ease, but the Avs are riding the bubble, even though they hold third place in the Central Division.

    For the Pens part, clearly there is a need for secondary scoring in the form of a bottom or mid-six winger. P.A. Parenteau has shown the potential to be that scorer and more. However, at this point, Parenteau's style of play and reduced production would have to be considered by the Pens. Given the size of Parenteau's contract, I'm not sure that the Pens organization would be interested in the trade.

    Max Talbot, on the other hand, would generate a lot of interest from the players to the management of the team. He has history with the club, obviously. His penalty-killing ability and energy would offer the Pens a viable stop gap for the loss of Pascal Dupuis. All at an affordable cap hit that would allow the Pens to make additional moves moving forward.

    As for Colorado, their priority at this point, sitting in that final division playoff spot, is indeed defense. From what I've read in Avs blogs and editorials, it's a Top 4 defenseman that they're looking for and I'm not sure that Simon Despres fits that description....yet. It is possible that Coach Roy and Co. believe that Despres will develop into that player and they would like to add him into their corps of young stars for the future. It is also possible that Roy, a notoriously fierce competitor, is more interested in winning now and would have no interest at all.

    So, in the interest of taking a stand, I submit that Colorado would likely NOT accept Kevin's offer of Despres for Parenteau and that the feeling would be mutual for the Pens, based on the fit just not being right.

    In the case of Max Talbot, I believe the Pens would enthusiastically pursue that trade for the intangibles he would bring. However, I believe that, while possible the Avs would accept the deal as Ryan presented it, Colorado would expect a little more in return to make that deal happen.

    But, if it did happen, we could get more of this fine acting:

     Thanks, Kevin and Ryan for your proposals.

     Instead of stopping there, we want to hear what you have to say. So, by all means, hit up the comment section below and let us know what you think. Would you take the deal? Have a counter-offer? The conversation is now in your hands.

     If you’d like to submit your own trade proposal for consideration, by all means, (Click here) or see the "Desktop GM" tab on the right side of our page. We look forward to seeing what you suggest.

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