Pittsburgh Penguins Trade Rumors: Kesler, Callahan, and St. Louis by @PandaPSU - PensInitiative | Pittsburgh Penguins Blog | Rumors | News

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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Pittsburgh Penguins Trade Rumors: Kesler, Callahan, and St. Louis by @PandaPSU

In the blink of an eye, the trade deadline rumors exploded last night. Big names like Ryan Kesler, Ryan Callahan, and Martin St. Louis surfaced as potential trade targets over the next week. All of these guys will be highly sought after and can make a huge difference for playoff teams. Do any of these guys make sense for the Penguins?

(Photo courtesy of NHL.com)

Ryan Kesler is a player that any club would be lucky to get at the deadline. He is a past 40-goal scorer and is lock for 20 goals per season. He is also a great special teams player with time on the power play and penalty kill. He could immediately upgrade a unit that leads the league in the penalty kill, but offers little in the way of a short-handed goal threat. He is also 29 years old, so a case could be made that his best hockey is still ahead of him. Would I want the Penguins to pursue him? As I mentioned earlier, any team would be lucky to pickup Kesler at the deadline, but is he a good fit for this team? Some suggest that bringing in a strong center to reenact the three center approach from a couple years back would be the best bet for this team. A couple of reminders - that only worked once in the entire tenure of Jordan Staal. Also, Kesler would not be playing with Matt Cooke and Tyler Kennedy. The third line wingers are glorified AHL players at this point. Most importantly, does anyone think Ryan Kesler gets brought in to be stuck on the third line of a team? If you try to place him on the first line with Crosby, he is in a position that is not natural for him. We have seen what happens when the Pens try to put a square peg into a round hole (ahem... IGINLA). Additionally, he hits the Penguins cap with a $5 salary for the next two seasons. While that will mean a little less once the cap goes up the next couple of seasons, do you really want $44 million tied up in seven players? For all of these reasons, I think the Penguins should pass on Kesler.

(Photo courtesy of NHL.com)
Ryan Callahan brings many of the same benefits Kesler brought. He will give you 20 goals a season (potentially a lot more as Crosby's linemate). He is only 28, so he has a lot of great hockey left in him. He will immediately upgrade the penalty kill for the Penguins because he is an offensive threat on the PK. Above all, he gives 110% every shift and is known for sacrificing his body. This is a guy you want to go to war with in the playoffs. He is also a right-winger, which as Josh Yohe mentioned on the PI Podcast last night (http://www.blogtalkradio.com/pensinitiative/2014/02/27/412-sports-talk-22614-2), the Penguins have no depth at the right-wing position. Callahan would be an immediate upgrade to the first line and really round out the top two lines for the Penguins. Unfortunately, there are just as many drawbacks to bringing in Callahan. While bringing in Callahan will make the first two lines explosive, it does absolutely nothing to address the dreadful 3rd and 4th lines. In the playoffs, you need to run four lines consistently, and the 3rd and 4th lines would be liabilities come May. Additionally, Callahan hits the cap for $4.275 million, but only for this season. He is an unrestricted free agent this summer, so this would be the definition of a rental for Shero. It is something he wanted to avoid because there is no guarantee Callahan would want to stay in Pittsburgh, or that the Pens could offer him enough to stay in Pittsburgh. Again, for all of these reasons, the Penguins should pass on Callahan.

(Photo courtesy of NHL.com)
Martin St. Louis is a bit different than Kesler and Callahan. At 38 years of age, he only has a couple of seasons left in him. That being said, he is still at the top of his game. He has been a 40-goal scorer and 100-point scorer in years past. He will still give you 25 goals and 40+ assists each season. Again, he is a right-winger and would be an attractive addition to the Crosby/Kunitz line. His speed and play-making ability would give an immediate boost to an already deadly power play. The big question is does he really want out of Tampa Bay? Again, as Josh Yohe mentioned last night, the rift between he and Yzerman is very strong, and I think he demands a trade. He comes in with the highest cap hit of the three at $5.625 million. He is an unrestricted free agent after the 2014-15 season, which by the way could easily be his last season. He would be 40 years old at the beginning of the 2015-16 season. While he would also make the top two lines deadly, he once again does nothing for the 3rd and 4th lines. Also, if you bring someone like Callahan or St. Louis in and they sign long-term, what do you do with a healthy Dupuis? You don't want a guy making $3.75 million on your third line. St. Louis is also a no for me for all of these reasons.

When you first started reading this, I am assuming you did not think I would say the Penguins should avoid Kesler, Callahan, and St. Louis, so who should they target? For me, this team needs depth at forward. This would mean bringing in two forwards for roughly the same price as a Kesler or St. Louis. My ideal trade targets would be P.A. Parenteau and Steve Ott. While Ott is a free agent this summer, his cap hit is only $2.95 million, and if he played well for the Penguins, he is someone they could resign for not a significant pay increase. P.A. Parenteau is making $4 million over the next two seasons and is a free agent starting in 2016-17. Parenteau has similar stats to Ryan Callahan. The Penguins would have him signed at the $4 million hit for two more seasons, AND he is a right-winger. I think his game would fit beautifully with Crosby and Kunitz. Ott would provide grit and an immediate upgrade to the third line. He is the team captain for the Sabres, so he would also provide that veteran locker room presence many feel has been lacking with this team. He will give you a solid 10 goals, and seems like he would fit in nicely for this team's current needs. If a deal could not be done with Parenteau, I would not be surprised to see Ott and Moulson packaged together to a club. Moulson is a left-winger and I could see a third line of Ott, Sutter, and Moulson. This would leave Gibbons on the first line with Crosby and Kunitz. The third line would be hell to play against, and this is something that has been lacking all season for the Penguins. The downside to this trade is that Moulson is an unrestricted free agent this summer as well, and it would be hard for the Penguins to keep him.

This leaves a lot for Shero to think about over the next six days. If I were him, I would avoid making a big splash like he has done in years past. The Penguins' cupboards are fairly bare with the exception of their defensive depth. I don't think he would want to part with Pouliot to bring in a Callahan, Kesler, or St. Louis. I would stick with skilled secondary targets like Parenteau, Moulson, or Ott to boost the Penguins' chances for a deep cup run without giving up much of the future.

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