SOME QUICK HITS
Penguins and Panthers a Trade Match? Have to wonder if the Panthers come calling about the availability of Simon Despres. Despres former junior coach Gerard Gallant is now the head man in Florida and Gallant is said to love Despres as a player.
Gallant was an assistant coach with Canadiens last season and Montreal was among the teams kicking the tires on Despres when former GM Ray Shero had Despres in play leading up to last years trade deadline.
Penguins pro scouts are very high on Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov who the Penguins looked into last winter.
- The Penguins anticipate action intensifying on James Neal as the day progresses. It remains to be seen if they get an offer that they strongly consider but they’re open to anything on Neal right now. Going to be an interesting night regarding him.
- The Penguins have called about the availability of Blackhawks winger Patrick Sharp
- Word out of the Rob Scuderi camp is the Penguins have not come to them once this off-season about a possible trade but Scuderi’s name is out there and it’s no secret the Penguins are trying to move cap space. Scuderi has a modified no trade clause and most teams on his no trade list are in the Western Conference. In addition to Pittsburgh, the two finalists for Scuderi last summer were the Toronto Maple Leafs and Philadelphia Flyers who both offered four year deals.
- The Canucks have tried to get more teams involved in the Ryan Kesler sweepstakes. Kesler was willing to be traded to Chicago, Anaheim, Colorado, Pittsburgh, Detroit, and Tampa Bay at the trade deadline. That list has shrunk. His camp is holding firm for now on only being willing to go to Anaheim or Chicago, with Chicago believed to be his top choice, though he’s likely headed to Anaheim. Kesler is much less enthused about Pittsburgh now who is not a contender for him this time around. A source in the Kesler camp said Tuesday Pittsburgh is no longer on his list. Perception problem?
- Jim Rutherford is a short-term GM whose eye is on the Stanley Cup. There’s no question many believe he’s willing to mortgage the future a bit for a short-term fix. The Penguins first round pick, No. 22 overall, is very much in play and teams know it.
Pittsburgh seeks an established NHL player in return but the value of first round picks drop significantly after pick 20, especially in this draft where there are so many different opinions from prospects ranked 20-60.
- The official salary cap number is expected to be released today. Remains to be seen if it will get above $70 million. Projections from league executives, prominent agents just prior to the Stanley Cup Final was the cap coming in around $69.5 – $69.8 million.