LATEST PENS BUZZ
The NHL trade freeze is lifted at midnight and it’s back to business for NHL GM’s. Four years ago at the Olympic games in Vancouver, there was perceived to have been a lot more trade discussions and trades being put into the works than at the Sochi games. The reasons being that the 2010 Olympics ended just days before the 2010 trade deadline.
With the trade deadline not till March 5th, coming out of the Sochi games, the belief is the market is still a good six to seven days from really establishing as prices were sky high prior to the Olympic freeze.
The Penguins wishlist has not changed. They covet a top-9 forward and would like to bolster the third line, however, their cap situation complicates things a bit.
The scuttlebutt in recent days, though, is adding a top-6 defenseman is something the Penguins are not ruling out and could become a top priority due to the extreme asking prices for the top four to five forwards on the trade block.
. Multiple sources say the team is operating with the mindset that Kris Letang won’t return this season and if he does it’s a bonus. Paul Martin will be sidelined for multiple weeks with a hand/wrist injury. The Penguins are awaiting tests from team doctors to reveal a timetable for Martin’s return and whether he may need surgery or not.
Physical defenseman Mark Stuart of the Winnipeg Jets, is a name of interest for the Penguins, sources say. However, there’s talk of the Penguins at least being open to the idea of moving one of their top to mid-tier blueline prospects for an impact defensemen who can help right now and has term on their contract or is under team control (RFA).
Asking around, the name I heard more than once connected to the Penguins was 23 year old Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov. The Penguins have scouted the Panthers heavily in the past four to six weeks as the team has been looking hard at winger Brad Boyes and others. Kulikov is said to have some big fans in the Penguins organization. The Panthers have grown frustrated with Kulikov and GM Dale Taillon has been listening on him for months.
Why is there a lot of intrigue with Kulikov?
He’s already a 20 minute per game player with great upside. He’s a much better offensive player than the numbers indicate, 6 goals and 12 points.
While he’s no Kris Letang, Kulikov is viewed as a player who could give the Penguins some of those Letang attributes with his skating and ability on the breakout, evaluators contend.
Kulikov is a direction the Penguins could go but one source expressed caution saying he believes they pass because of the contract situation. Kulikov is an RFA, already making $2.5 million. While he’s under team control, he’s starting to get a bit expensive.
Crosby, Kunitz head home with Gold Medal
Canada has repeated as Olympic Champions with their second straight Gold Medal, defeating Sweden 3-0. The Canadians put on one of the most dominant defensive efforts in Olympic history, surrendering just three goals in the tournament.
Sidney Crosby has his second Gold Medal and got his first goal of the tournament with a breakaway goal in the second period. Crosby played extremely well in the Semis and the Gold Medal game, as did Chris Kunitz who quieted some of those critics with his play vs the Americans and Sweden on Sunday.
Kunitz added a third period goal, icing the game against Sweden.