LATEST PENS DRAFT DAY CHATTER
— The Penguins hold the No. 22 pick in the first round of the NHL entry draft tonight and two players I’m told the Penguins amateur scouting staff would be absolutely thrilled to see at No. 22 is London Knights defenseman Olli Maata (6-2, 202 lbs) and Plymouth Whalers winger Thomas Wilson (6-4, 203 lbs). Despite this being an unpredictable draft, especially in the 10-25 range, Of the two, Maata who the Penguins have done a ton of scouting on while tracking 2011 2nd round pick Scott Harrington, is a big longshot to fall in the 20’s. Wilson though a big rugged winger, figures to go in the 15-22 range. Maata is the No. 8 rated skater among North American Skaters and Wilson is the No. 15 rated North American Skater.
Onto the Latest Rumblings:
— The Penguins and Carolina Hurricanes have had general trade discussions regarding Jordan Staal and while it’s possible the Canes make an offer centering around the No. 8 overall pick, they remain lukewarm on trading any NHL assets. The Penguins are said to still be holding a hard line when it comes to their asking price for Staal, despite not having much leverage with other teams in talks.
— Jordan Staal rejecting the Penguins 10 year offer is not a money thing by any means and a league source says the possibility of the new CBA limiting the term of contracts to 5 to 7 years is not a concern what’s so ever to Staal’s camp. One viewpoint is that Staal would be up for another contract when he’s just entering his prime at 28, 29. “He’ll be 24 next summer and has two more big contracts in him if he lets say signed a five year deal on his next contract, ” the source said. That is one way to think of it.
— Pittsburgh continues to listen on all trade scenarios for their group of nine waiver eligible defensemen next season, except Kris Letang. The Penguins stance with Paul Martin is that they are not actively shopping him by any means, but are listening, in addition to others. Word out of the organization remains the same from last weekend……They would only move Martin in a hockey trade.
— The Penguins will continue to explore trade options at the winger position, before they make a decision in moving forward in talks with winger Steve Sullivan who the team expects to make a decision on after the weekend, depending on how things shape up.
— I’m told the Phoenix Coyotes are considering the possibility of trading the rights for Ray Whitney who has a very few select teams he will sign with next season. Pittsburgh is one of those teams Whitney would be interested in, a source confirms, but the 40 year old is seeking a deal in excess of $3 million. “He’s looking for the right situation and to be compensated properly, ” a league source told me today. Whitney is represented by J.P. Barry who is the agent for Evgeni Malkin. Whitney would love to stay in Phoenix but they can’t commit to him yet. Whitney had 24 goals and 77 points last season and is a big factor at even strength, ranking 6th in the NHL with 56 even strength points. He would be a risk though with his age and salary.
— Among the teams the Penguins are said to be involved in general trade discussions today with are the Minnesota Wild.
Minnesota is in the market for defensemen and are said to have an eye on a few targets in the Penguins organization. Wild GM Chuck Fletcher would love to nab Robert Bortuzzo in a trade. Â Pittsburgh is very interested in Devin Setoguchi, but Minnesota would be seeking NHL assets in return.Â Minnesota has interest in Jordan Staal but as I mentioned last week, won’t go after Staal hard unless he were to sign there.
— In addition to a scoring forward, Pittsburgh would like to add a gritty depth player and are putting feelers out to see how the free agent market is going to develop for the likes of Travis Moen and Daniel Winnik. The Penguins are high on Moen and Winnik, but players such as Moen, Winnik and even Brandon Prust are believed to be seeking a term of at least three years and salaries close to or in excess of $2 million per season. That’s the projected market for these type of players. Moen is in contract talks with the Montreal Canadiens who want him back, while Prust will hit the open market but a return to New York remains possible.
I’m told this (high prices) could lead to Arron Asham’s return who will be an easy sign in the $700,000 range. Like Sullivan, the Penguins expect to make a decision on Asham after the weekend.
Prust is not viewed by the Penguins brass as a likely target, but Moen and Winnik are, if the price were to be right, while the Penguins could look into the likes of Dominic Moore who they had interest in at the trade deadline and Avalanche center Jay McClement if Jordan Staal is moved.