The Pittsburgh Penguins growing concerned with their blueline, [hide] have begun identifying trade targets on the backend, sources tell Inside Pittsburgh Sports.


While the Penguins have had what’s described as mild interest in pursuing a trade for Winnipeg’s Jacob Trouba, mostly due to financial concerns, the Penguins have become increasingly interested in the Hampus Lindholm situation in Anaheim.

It’s no secret that Anaheim is prepared to move an impact defenseman once they get Lindholm signed, which remains likely by the December 1 deadline.

Penguin officials have had deep talks internally about the potential fit for 24 year old defenseman Cam Fowler, TIOPS has learned.

Fowler who has excellent mobility, is a fantastic defenseman from transitioning to defense to offense.

A $4 million cap hit for the next two seasons, the Ducks have been dangling Fowler in talks since the draft with the expectation that they can land a massive haul for Fowler and in the process clear cap room.

Buffalo, Montreal have been two of the most aggressive suitors for Fowler since June with many others prepared to make a big run for Fowler when Anaheim is ready to deal.

The Penguins are one of the clubs considering a legitimate run at Fowler as Penguin officials are giddy about the fit on the ice and financial fit.

Pittsburgh also feels it has the forward prospects/young NHL forwards to get Anaheim’s attention.

Rutherford and Ducks GM Bob Murray have a close relationship and have struck two deals in the last 18 months, Ben Lovejoy for Simon Despres, and Carl Hagelin for David Perron.

One source believes the type of deal it would take is a first round pick, Daniel Sprong/Jake Guentzel type prospect and a young NHL forward in the mold of a Bryan Rust type.

Prior to another head injury, Anaheim had also been floating Simon Despres’ name out there in talks with various clubs. Despres is signed for the next four seasons with a $3.7 million cap hit.

Toronto has strong interest in Despres, were his health check out.

— It’s hard to accurately analyze the Penguins right now with Sidney Crosby yet to play and Kris Letang being sidelined for a few games and expected to miss Tuesday’s game vs Florida.

However, where some frustration is building inside the room is that the Penguins have been an easy team to play against.

Getting the Penguins to play the suffocating team game in all three zones that won them a Cup last spring was never going to happen for October hockey games but the biggest challenge for Mike Sullivan is and will continue to be playing a team game defensively where all skaters 1-18 are buying in.

The Penguins are not good enough on the backend to just go through the motions defensively in the neutral zone and defensive zone which has happened in the last four games.

— The HBK line has been minimized this season to a great degree as with Sidney Crosby out of the lineup, the opposition has been able to key on them with one Eastern Conference coach telling me the Malkin line/or line combinations strike no fear.

With Crosby set to return later this week, Mike Sullivan reunited the HBK line in today’s practice and pretty much going with the Stanley Cup lines, except for Scott Wilson playing with Sidney Crosby- Patric Hornqvist as Conor Sheary remains out.

Wilson who a Penguin scout called a poor mans Chris Kunitz this summer, is deserving of a look with Crosby.

He’s a much different player than Conor Sheary. Sheary has had his good moments with Crosby in being able to back the opposition up through the neutral zone and his creativity to see the ice well.

Wilson doesn’t have the foot speed that Sheary does but he still skates well enough and has much stronger scoring ability in tight.

It’s a line that could have success with how well Crosby and Hornqvist play below the dots and Wilson’s knack of finding the soft spots in high danger scoring areas.

Crosby had a strong workout Monday, participating fully in all drills and seeing time with the first power play unit.

“No [symptoms], I feel good,” Crosby said afterwards.

There’s no indication Crosby/team are targeting Tuesday night, though, Mike Sullivan minutes ago didn’t officially rule him out. There is a strong chance Crosby is in the lineup by Thursday.

If Wilson can find a good fit with Crosby, it could have a trickle down effect on the Penguins getting back to having four scoring lines.

One thing that Matt Cullen has showed is he still has it offensively, among the Penguins best forwards this past week.

While Tom Kuhnhackl is loved by the coaching staff and a better defensive player than Sheary, a Sheary – Cullen – Fehr line would give the Penguins a better blend of offense/defense overall from the 4th line in their ability to play more speed and possess the puck better.