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: Our own Nick Case
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?
While Rutherford has done a good job of shoring up some needs as the season has gone on (adding David Perron and acquiring Daniel Winnik, albeit at a bit of a steep price), there's still work to be done in the forward ranks. The bottom six is starting to take shape with the likes of interchangeable players like Beau Bennett, Steve Downie, Blake Comeau, Nick Spaling, Maxime Lapierre, and the aforementioned Winnik there's still a large Craig Adams sized hole in the bottom line. Though stats show he is better away from the dearly departed Zach Sill... he's still not good.
A depth defenseman would be nice as well. Something to sit Rob Scuderi. He's been serviceable this season but for his cap hit he still doesn't bring enough to the table. Will this happen? Likely not. Even if a depth defender is added he'll likely take the slot of a younger player. That would be a shame.
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 is the one that constantly comes to mind. He's a poor man's Jordan Staal (destitute man's?) and some teams would pay a large price for him. While there would be a drop off in quality, you could replace him with someone fairly simply.
Perhaps one of Rutherford and Co's biggest errors was letting Jussi Jokinen walk while re-signing Sutter. Sutter has been good-ish. Jokinen had proven chemistry with Malkin to flex into the top six and plays a better defensive game. Their cap hits are similar, with Jokinen making all of the missing $700k more.
3.) Who are three players likely to be available you'd like to see the Pens go after and why?
1.) Derek Roy (C), Edmonton- I've been a fan of Derek Roy since his Buffalo days so I'll admit some bias. However he brings a scoring touch that would be welcomed on the bottom six. He's adapted his game to play in that kind of a role and can float around the line up. He'd be a very good upgrade over Craig Adams.
2.) Andrew Ference (D), Edmonton- A leader and a winner, the former Penguin has struggled since heading to Edmonton because... well... Edmonton. It would be a hard trade to pull for cap reasons unless they found a way to send Scuderi the other way but he would be an improvement no the back end.
3.) David Booth (L), Toronto- A bottom six forward with some pop and a friendly hit, could add depth and stability and eliminate some of the lesser players. While Booth is notorious for his past large contract, he is a better go getter than Craig Adams.
4.) What current rumor would you NOT like to see happen?
I want no part in losing Paul Martin. He's playing above his cap hit and is a vital piece to this current team. The only realm in which parting with Martin makes sense is in acquiring a top six forward. The Penguins, however, with Malkin, Crosby, Kunitz, Hornqvist, and Perron are set in that regard. Beau Bennett and Blake Comeau has been proven to work in those roles. Steve Downie is capable in that regard as well. There's no need for a top six forward.
I'm also against the rumors of people returning to Pittsburgh. Jordan Staal pouted his way out of town, deciding he was better than a bottom six role. While not entirely wrong, he's no where near Crosby or Malkin and wanted to play center. His attitude in leaving soured me greatly. Further his defensive prowess was highly overstated in his past few years here. You can point to 50 point totals, but his defensive responsibilities lapsed as he wanted to prove he was more than a third line center. Look no farther than the Flyers series in 2012 for a prime example. Also, as Brian Metzer mentioned, Zybanek Michalek has been linked to the team. He's just a pricier, more athletic Rob Scuderi. Pass.
5.) Who do you consider “untouchable” (prospect or otherwise) in a trade scenario this year?
It all comes down to the Core Four: Sidney Crosby, Evegeni Malkin, Kris Letang, and Marc-Andre Fleury. All are generational talents that you will never get a solid return for. It's easy to trash Fleury but his last playoffs were solid and this year has been stellar. If not for Pekka Rinne just running away with the Vezina, he'd be deep in the discussion. Letang has hit his stride (whoops) and can win the Norris. Malin and Crosby, despite some struggles, are Malkin and Crosby.
You can possibly add new players like David Perron, Christian Ehrhoff, Nick Spaling but if hard pressed I find it easy to see any but Perron on the block.
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?
I know he's not exactly young but seeing Sidney Crosby next to Marian Hossa was astounding. Bring him back! If we could add a Phil Kessel to that wing as well I'm all for it. A little Corey Perry alongside Geno would send shivers down my spine.
As for on defense, I'd love love love to see Shea Weber partnered with Kris Letang. What a scary, scary blue line. Too bad the Flyers will trade for him.
#NHLTradeDeadline @PensInitiative Roundtable - @Nick422
12:00:00 PM Beau Bennett , Blake Comeau , Christian Ehrhoff , Daniel Winnik , David Perron , Evgeni Malkin , Kris Letang , Marc Andre Fleury , NHL Trade Deadline , NHLTradeDeadline , Nick Case , Paul Martin , Rob Scuderi , Steve Downie Edit