This is another part in our series of the Pens Initiative NHL Trade Deadline Round Table. To view the other entries, click here. Today's entry: The Trib's Jason Mackey
Mackey: I think their biggest need is a second-pairing defenseman, someone to play with Christian Ehrhoff.
If their top-six forwards are healthy, I'm fine going into the playoffs with Kunitz, Crosby and Perron ... Comeau, Malkin and Hornqvist. Plus, the only one you'd remove out of those six is Kunitz. Crosby likes having Kunitz as his left wing. Kunitz is 35 and has an ugly cap hit ($3.85 million per through 2016-17). Not sure what the trade market is for a player like that .. who has had what has admittedly been an up-and-down year.
2) Rutherford doesn’t have a lot of cap room to work with. (791,000 as of this writing) If he is to address a perceived need, who do you view as a likely trade chip?
Rutherford has said he would like to stay away from dealing the organization's young defensemen: Pouliot, Harrington and Dumoulin. That's not to say he wouldn't if he got a solid offer, but I don't see them as trade chips. They're also very light on solid forward prospects. Not sure enough people know about Oskar Sundqvist to make dealing him worthwhile. Plus, money saved would be nil.
Most likely you're looking at potentially Brandon Sutter, Beau Bennett or Chris Kunitz, and I don't think the organization is in a hurry to trade any of them. I think Robert Bortuzzo could be attractive to an opposing club — young, physical, low cap hit, but needs some work.
If there’s a deal to be made, Sutter seems to be the most logical option. He’s young and has upside: could add more offense to his game, which includes being sound defensively and a plus in the face circle, plus PK experience. The last name doesn’t hurt. His $3.3 million cap hit would give them some play.
3) Who are three players likely to be available you'd like to see the Pens go after and why?
a. Jeff Petry, D, Edmonton — You saw him when the Penguins where there. Has size. Steady. No problem playing top-four minutes. Skating ability could fit felt in Pittsburgh. His right-handed shot would be perfect with Ehrhoff.
b. Daniel Winnik, F Toronto — The price here, in my opinion anyway, would be too high. Could strip the Penguins of draft picks this summer until the fourth round. Not good. Winnik could offer an upgrade in bottom-six depth, something Rutherford has said he wants. But what they have might trump what they would have to give up.
c. Andrej Sekera, D, Carolina — Can play top-four minutes. He’s a year removed from tallying 44 points and has a friendly cap hit ($2.75 million). Pretty sure Jim Rutherford and Ron Francis know each other.
4) What current rumor would you NOT like to see happen?
Jaromir Jagr. I also don’t think it WILL happen. From what I’ve been told by management, this isn’t something that’s being seriously considered. More of a sexy, fabricated storyline. Granted, things can change, but given what the Penguins could offer Jagr — MAYBE a top-six role, maybe — I don’t think it’s worth what they’d have to pay him.
If the Penguins’ current top-six stays healthy, there’s simply no use for Jagr. Would he help on the power play? Yes. But he’d play a third-line role five-on-five. The Penguins’ current iteration of a third line has actually been very good lately.
To save the money and trade chips, I think that’s something they’re willing to explore.
5) Who do you consider “untouchable” (prospect or otherwise) in a trade scenario this year?
Derrick Pouliot. Plain and simple. Too good. Going to be great given time to develop. Trading him would be mortgaging the future, and that’s not going to happen.
6) Imagine a scenario where the Penguins had around 10 million in space to play with; which player (or players) would you love to see on this team?
This is really hard because … does this mean someone from the current roster is gone? Or just that the cap is $10 million higher?
Are we talking all players, all teams, regardless of being an RFA? Because I think Vladimir Tarasenko would look great on a line with Evgeni Malkin — yet I doubt very much that’s going to happen.
I also think they should resign Paul Martin, if there’s an extra $10 million to throw around. No such thing as understating the value he has to this team.