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Friday, February 27, 2015

#NHLTradeDeadline @PensInitiative Roundtable - @HockeyMeesh

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 PensNation's Meesh

EDITOR'S NOTE: Meesh's answers were from Monday.  Some things may have happened since then that make him look good.  He's really just that smart.

1.) What do you consider to be the Pens greatest need as the deadline approaches? Do they need to address more than one area for you to consider them a legitimate Cup contender? 

At this point, they could use another depth defenseman that slides into Bortuzzo’s slot. Bortuzzo has been inconsistent this season, but would be a fine extra defenseman to have for the playoffs. Pouliot has shown flashes of NHL-readiness, but it’s probably too much to expect him to play a dependable playoff shift. The Pens are really just one better-than-Bortuzzo defenseman away from an extremely solid group going into the playoffs (yes, Scuderi-Despres works).

The team is a Cup contender as is despite the constant handwringing over depth. If they want to push themselves into the favorite category though, they would need to add another bottom-six winger and ideally a 3rd line center to solidify the roster from top to bottom. Acquiring all of these pieces with limited cap space and not many assets to trade away seems like a far-fetched idea though.

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?

Brandon Sutter and Steve Downie appear to be the “best” trade chips for the Penguins right now for financial reasons. Sutter is having a disappointing year, but he still has enough promise and perceived potential that another team may be willing to take a chance on him with only one year left on his $3.3 mil. contract. Nick Spaling’s ability to play literally anywhere in the lineup makes Sutter expendable as well. Meanwhile, Downie seems to have lost his place in the lineup now that the team is healthy again. At a $1 mil. cap hit, he can free up more room than the rest of the bottom-six. It’s unlikely that any team would want Downie for his value alone though, so it would probably have to be a package with a pick or a young defenseman, such as Dumoulin, who can’t get past several guys on the depth chart.

3.) Who are three players likely to be available you'd like to see the Pens go after and why? 

Based on cap hits, teams in the playoff race, and trades already made, it’s getting difficult to find players that the Pens can actually afford (price and trade-wise) that make sense. I’m not even sure I have any realistically, but if forced, I would go with:

1) Daniel Winnik, Tor. – Admittedly, I wanted Winnik in the offseason and nothing this season has changed my tune. He’s a strong defensive forward that is efficient at getting the puck out of his zone, which the Penguins could use in their bottom-six. The cost is rumored to be a 2nd round pick though, which is probably too much for the Penguins to give up in this year’s draft at least since they are already without a 1st and 3rd.

2) Sean Bergenheim, Fla – This one is extremely unlikely to happen as well since Bergenheim has been rumored to three teams in the West and makes $2.75 mil. If the Pens could work out the cap space though, Florida’s asking price isn’t very high after misusing/not using him as of late and he would be a great addition to the bottom-six for possession and occasional scoring.

3) Marek Zidlicky, NJ – If one thing has become clear this season, it’s that defensemen who can skate and move the puck will not only thrive under Johnston, but they’ll also boost the entire offense immensely. Zidlicky carries a hefty $4 million cap hit, so I doubt this would ever work financially, but I like the idea of what Zidlicky could do as a part of this roster. He would be more of a luxury move than filling a need though, especially at that price. The puck movement from the backend would be fantastic though with Letang, Martin, Ehrhoff, Zidlicky, and Despres.

4.) What current rumor would you NOT like to see happen?

Staal, Jagr, anything with a former Penguin ever. Teams and players part ways for a reason. Keep moving forward.

5.) Who do you consider “untouchable” (prospect or otherwise) in a trade scenario this year? 

The only four guys I view as untouchable are Crosby, Malkin, Letang, and Fleury. That being said, I would demand an absurd price for Pouliot, making him near untouchable. His development is going much quicker than I anticipated and he will be a cornerstone of this team for a while unless another team wants to pay way too much.

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? 

With an extra $10 million, I’d say call up Edmonton and pry away Eberle or call up Chicago and explain to them that they’ll have to let go of Sharp soon for money reasons, so they should do it right now. The Pens could acquire one of those two in this ideal world and also afford to get Bergenheim from Florida for a pick to complete the forward group. If Sutter is given away in one of those deals, the Pens could then add Zidlicky as well. Now I’ve gone offense-crazy with too much money. It’s like being Shero during the lockout-shortened season.

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