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Insider Only Analysis on the Penguins acquisition of Daniel Winnik

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The Penguins trade for Daniel Winnik has been a long-time coming as the Penguins made multiple offers for Winnik since the middle of January and eventually got to the point in the last 24 hours where the rest of field took themselves out of the mix due to the Leafs high demands that the Penguins eventually met.
The Maple Leafs do a great job of using the prominent Toronto media in truly putting the price out there on players.
TSN’s Darren Dreger last week reported the Leafs wanted a second, third round pick, and the Leafs come close to that in getting a second and fourth round pick from Pittsburgh with Zach Sill nothing more than a throw in due to the Penguins needing to move a contract.
Pittsburgh giving up a second round pick in 2016 and a fourth round pick in 2015, has been deemed by executives outside of Pittsburgh as an extremely steep price for a role player in Winnik.
“I’m surprised they got a second and a fourth,” an Eastern Conference executive told Craig Custance of ESPN.
Pittsburgh now doesn’t have a first, third or fourth round pick in the 2015 draft. Right or wrong, the reality is the Penguins don’t value draft picks and likely never will with this ownership group, as long as Crosby and Malkin are still around. If ownership was upset about the poor drafting under Ray Shero, like some were first led to believe, the entire amateur scouting staff wouldn’t still be in-tact.The Penguins are always going to be willing to throw around second, third, fourth, fifth round picks for rentals.
On the flip side, It’s understandable some inside the game think the Penguins paid too high of a price for Winnik. Giving up high picks for role players rarely works out. Just go back and look at the Penguins history of rental deals during the Crosby era.
The deals for players who were rentals (last year of the their contract) that came in and made a true impact were top-6 “capable” players who played in the top-6 once acquired, from the likes of Hossa and Dupuis in 2008 playing with Crosby, Bill Guerin in 2009, even Gary Roberts in 2007 who brought a needed dimension to the Penguins second line, to Jarome Iginla, who while having his role bothched by the coaching staff, still had 12 points in his first 11 playoff games with Pittsburgh.
There’s just such an unknown on what type of impact your going get from role players, a reason some cringe at giving up a high pick for a Daniel Winnik type player. Last season the Penguins gave up a 3rd and 5th round pick for Marcel Goc who brought the reputation of being a strong two-way player, penalty killer, and capable to provide secondary scoring with 11 goals in 62 games with Florida prior to the trade. That obviously ended up being a low impact acquisition.
From the Penguins end, though, the acquisition of Winnik wasn’t a steep price in their eyes for a player they feel is an excellent penalty killer that adds needed size, speed and two-way play in their bottom-6. Winnik certainly bolsters their forward depth at wing in the bottom-6.
Jim Rutherford talked last week of getting a player who isn’t a game changer but someone who could impact a playoff game every once in while. The Penguins feel they are getting that player in Winnik. We’ll see…..
Winnik’s most common linemates in Toronto were Nazem Kadri and Mike Santorelli. His most likely linemates in Pittsburgh will be Brandon Sutter, Nick Spaling. Matching the offensive production from Toronto might be difficult.
At the end of the day the Winnik acquisition likely ends up being a low impact trade. One reason being, Winnik isn’t going to solve the Penguins issues in the bottom-6 of having Brandon Sutter/Max Lapierre as their third and fourth line centers. The Penguins still have a center problem in the bottom-6, just like last year.
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Leading into today the Penguins were also heavily involved in trade talks with the Carolina Hurricanes for Jiri Tlusty who was traded to Winnipeg at right around the same time Winnik was dealt to Pittsburgh. Tlusty went for a third rounder and conditional sixth rounder.
The Penguins felt Tlusty would have given them offensive punch in the top-6 and the option to play Chris Kunitz on the third line, where the Penguins feel he’s better suited for moving forward and some in the organization feel Kunitz could involve into an excellent third liner late in his career.
Tlusty was also attractive to the Penguins to play with Evgeni Malkin due to Tlusty’s defensive responsibilities.
What was problematic for the Penguins in talks for Tlusty is the $2.9 million cap hit and the Penguins needing Carolina to retain salary and that was never going happen. Sources also say there’s some questions whether Carolina wanted to do business with the Penguins.
The best news for the Penguins to this point is defenseman Andrej Sekera getting traded to Los Angeles. The Rangers who might be the best team in the Eastern Conference, were strongly in the mix for Sekera along with other Eastern conference contenders.
Moving forward don’t count the Penguins on being done.

They still have their 2015 2nd round pick that is very valuable in a deep draft, along with coveted prospects they’d be willing to move in the right deal. From the NHL roster, the Winnik deal might end up being bad news for Beau Bennett or Steve Downie.

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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