Analysis: Acquisition of Goc seen as giving coaching staff flexibility such as playing Malkin on Crosby’s wing a bit more

Goc Breaking down the Penguins failure to land Ryan Kesler, additions of Goc, Stempniak
To many Penguins fans, the 2014 trade deadline will likely be remembered by the Penguins failure to land Ryan Kesler. Did the Penguins have very strong interest in Kesler? Yes. Were they ever close to finalizing a deal? No. The Anaheim Ducks are widely believed to have been the closest team to acquiring Kesler before the Canucks decided about 15 minutes before the deadline to hold onto him.
One thing that never added up with Kesler talk was all of the leaks surrounding the Penguins. Somebody wanted that info out for a reason and that always led to me being cautious on the Penguins chances of actually landing Kesler as there were just too many details being leaked for a so called front runner when none of that type of detailed information was coming out from other interested suitors and there were many. Was there ever a peep prior to the deadline on what the actual offer or offers were from the Ducks? No, not at all.
At the end of the day as I’ve mentioned several times, the lack of a second asset for the Penguins, notably a high end forward prospect, is widely believed to have been the Penguins stumbling block in landing Kesler.
Penguins GM Ray Shero confirmed that the Penguins inquired about Kesler but said the focus was more on adding forward depth.
“We had inquired with them {Vancouver Canucks},” Shero said of Ryan Kesler. “At the end of the day, obviously he was not traded and I don’t think there was a deal there to be made. I think our goal going into the deadline, a lot of the focus media wise was on Ryan Kesler, not only in Pittsburgh but around different media markets, but I think our goal was to try to increase our depth upfront and I think with the second deal (Lee Stempniak) and Goc we have touched that,” Shero said. “Hopefully It makes us a better, deeper team.”
Penguins coaches are very excited about the versatility that Goc provides. The Penguins feel Goc is one of those hybrid centers who can play a defensive third line role but also mix in well with skilled forwards.
Goc figures to bolster the third line but the addition of Goc also gives the Penguins flexibility down the middle where it’s likely that Evgeni Malkin will play on Sidney Crosby’s right wing a bit more than he normally does.
“The great thing with Marcel is that he’s versatile,” Shero said. “Been a very good center ice man, penalty killer. Really found his way in the league to be a very useful player and that’s what we’re looking for. A guy we’ve had our eye on for a little while. Versatility of Goc is going to be important.”
Shero noted that with the flexibility the team now has down the middle, we could indeed see Malkin playing with Crosby more.

“Gives opportunity to have Geno play with Sid a bit more,” Shero said. “Different options because of the versatility of the players that we have.”
Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma sung the same tune as Shero in that Goc and Stempniak add flexibility.
“Two things both players add is flexibility and options,” Bylsma said. “With two acquisitions we’ve added depth to our forward position. Both are Penguin type players.”
“Goc a great two-way responsible player,” Bylsma said of the versatile forward. “Good faceoff guy, penalty kill guy. Goc is great in circle but also a good responsible forward who can play on the wing as well. Going to add depth to our top-9.”
Bylsma mentioned today that the Penguins have talked about acquiring Stempniak for a “number of years”.
Stempniak has just 8 goals this season and a 5.6 shooting percentage, but he has a pretty good shot and the talk for weeks has been that Bylsma has sought a player to play with Crosby who plays with some jam.
In the Penguins eyes, Stempniak fits the bill, though, his best fit is likely on the third line, a spot he could end up at as the staff plans to look at a number of options over the next 20 games.
“Lee Stempniak, right hand shot, goal scoring touch. {Adds} Strong work ethic to our group,” Bylsma said.
— Two players Bylsma made a priority today to speak to was Simon Despres and Brandon Sutter. Both were two prominent players mentioned in trade talks. “Brandon Sutter probably had a rough couple days with his name mentioned,” Bylsma said. “Whether it was real or not, it got mentioned. We had a few conversations.”
— The Penguins are in good salary cap shape for the event that the likes of Tomas Vokoun, Paul Martin and Beau Bennett return. “We’re fine right now with the salary cap,” Shero said.
In not taking on a big salary, like let’s say a Ales Hemsky, the Penguins have flexibility for when those players return. “We don’t have a timeframe yet for Beau Bennett, Kris Letang or Paul Martin,” Shero said. “To have that flexibility, I wanted to have that possibility.”
Shero threw Martin’s name in as not having a “timetable” yet. The sense is Martin’s injury is more of a 6-8 week injury than a four week injury. “Good news on Paul Martin, he will be back at somepoint,” Shero said. “I’m not sure if it’s right before the playoffs or {after} first game of playoffs.”
— Shero admitted he kicked the tires on some notable rental players out there like he almost always does. “Plenty of calls,” Shero said of kicking the tires on some bigger names on the trade market. “You’re always seeing what’s out there and trying to fit people in if that makes sense for you and what the cost might be.”

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William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at

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