RANKING THE PENGUINS TOP-5 MOVES
The Penguins lineup on opening night in January is far from the same one 11 weeks later as Penguins GM Ray Shero has made 5 key acquisitions since February 25th in constructing his team for a Stanley Cup run. Of the five moves four have been made via trade and one via a signing in Mark Eaton.
Here we rank the 5 moves based on the costs and impact each player has made or projects to make.
1. Jarome Iginla
Pittsburgh Received: Jarome Iginla
Calgary received: Kenny Agostino, Ben Hanowski, 2013 1st round pick
Analysis: Jarome Iginla is a fading superstar but as GM Ray Shero said last week, he’s 35 not 45. Iginla is Shero’s biggest acquisition this season and the Penguins didn’t have to pay a big price. Calgary received a first round pick, which will be a late first rounder, and two C-level prospects in Kenny Agostino and Ben Hanowski. Good luck finding a scout outside of Calgary who can genuinely express confidence in one of the two becoming full-time NHL players. While the Penguins are not getting the Iginla of three to four years ago, they are still getting a productive player who brings great character to the room and who could stick around in Pittsburgh for a few more years as he’s reached the point in his career where he wants to chase Stanley Cups. “There’s only one Jarome Iginla,” GM Ray Shero said last week. “He’s a future Hall of Famer.”
2. Mark Eaton
*Signed as a free agent on February 25, 2013 (1 year, $725,000)*
Analysis: After an awful season in New York last year, 35 year old defenseman Mark Eaton couldn’t find a home last summer or after the lockout and appeared headed towards possible retirement. A few weeks into the season, the Penguins brought Eaton into the organization on a tryout in Wilkes Barre and then officially signed Eaton on Feb 25. From day one the signing has paid dividends for the Penguins. The biggest thing Eaton brings to the table is that he leads by example and he came on board at the right time as the Penguins defensively as a whole were lacking basic fundamentals in their play during a stretch in late February. Eaton has worked his way into the top-6 and will likely be paired with Kris Letang come playoff time and the Penguins didn’t have to give up anything to bring him into the mix.
3. Jussi Jokinen
Pittsburgh Received: Jussi Jokinen
Carolina Received: Conditional 7th round pick
Analysis: Of Shero’s four deadline moves, the acquisition of Jussi Jokinen is the most under the radar of the four. It could become a more impact move for the Penguins than the acquisition of Brenden Morrow or maybe even Douglas Murray. Jokinen provides immediate insurance for Sidney Crosby, key faceoff ability and versatility in the Penguins lineup when this group is healthy. The Penguins are getting a good character guy and also have him under contract for next season, while acquiring him for just a late round pick.
4. Douglas Murray
Pittsburgh Received: Douglas Murray
San Jose Received: 2013 2nd round pick, 2014 conditional 2nd round pick
Analysis: The Penguins gave up the going rate for a defenseman, a 2nd round pick in 2013 and a conditional 2nd round pick in 2014. Murray fits a specific need as the Penguins lacked a big hog who can clear the crease and eat up minutes on the penalty kill. Murray has his shortcomings such as a lack of foot speed and advance analytics show he will likely bring down the Penguins offense, although he’s been okay so far. That said, giving up two second round picks for Murray is not a steep price and second round picks rarely become impact NHL players, at least that’s the trend the Penguins organization is on dating back to the 90’s.
Here’s a list of the Penguins second round selections since 1996:
D Pavel Skrbek, 1996, C Brian Gaffaney, 1997, LW Alexander Zevakhin, 1998, LW Matt Murley, 1999, C Shane Endicott, 2000, D Noah Welch, 2001, D Ondřej Němec, 2002, C Ryan Stone, 2003, RW Johannes Salmonsson, 2004, F Michael Gergen, 2005, D Carl Sneep, 2006, C Keven Veilleux, 2007, D Philip Samuelsson, 2009, D Scott Harrington, 2011, C Theodor Blueger, 2012
5. Brenden Morrow
Pittsburgh Received: Brenden Morrow, 2013 3rd round pick
Dallas Received: Joe Morrow, 2013 5th round pick.
Analysis: This was the one trade where the Penguins gave up a premium prospect and is a trade that is viewed as a bit of an overpayment for a bottom-2 line winger on the downside of his career. The buzz among scouts is Joe Morrow has the ability to be a top-4 defenseman and run a top power play unit. That’s a steep price for rental depth forward but when your a win now team like the Penguins, you make these type of gambles.
Morrow won’t make his mark on the stat sheet, and the hands, foot speed might be fading, but the Penguins love what he brings to the table when it comes to the little things such as his grit, play along the wall and net front presence. “He’s been all of that as advertised,” Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma said today. “Straight forward player, gets to the forecheck, gets to the front of the net. Offensive zone been a factor down low and quick to get back to the front of the net. He’s been excellent there. I think he’s added some punch, physicality to our lineup.”