League sources tell me there are mixed opinions around the league regarding Alex Goligoski‚Äôs trade value. Goligoski and Luca Caputi not 2007 1st round pick Angelo Esposito were the two prospects at last year‚Äôs trade deadline that Penguins GM Ray Shero received the most calls about in his pursuit of a top 6 winger for Sidney Crosby last season. Through 42 games this season Goligoski has 6 goals & 13 assists. Young puck moving defensemen are a hot commodity around the league and Pittsburgh has been looking at interest in Goligoski for some time. Among the teams expressing interest
have been the LA Kings, Tampa Bay Lightning, Ottawa Senators, Columbus Blue Jackets and Florida Panthers. Talks between the Penguins and Kings have hit a snag as Goligoski for Frolov will not get it done. Pittsburgh will have to sweeten the deal to land Frolov. The vibe I‚Äôm getting is Goligoski greatest value would be getting moved as the secondary piece in a trade. Teams like his offensive potential but that‚Äôs about it. Ryan Whitney has the most trade value for the Penguins among the Penguins group of offensive defensemen. Followed by Whitney is Kris Letang and then Alex Goligoski.
The one team to keep an eye on are the Tampa Bay Lightning. Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay have had brief discussions about Marty St. Louis. Greg Malone who now works for the Lightning knows Goligoski and was the Penguins head scout when the Penguins drafted Goligoski in 2004. This is the one scenario where Goligoski could land the Penguins their top 6 forward. Tampa is in a desperate need of a puck moving defenseman and are in cost cutting mode. Pittsburgh would have to include a high draft pick/prospect and move some salary the other way to get it done.
Penguins plays a complete game: The Penguins finally played a complete game Friday night in their 3-1 against Anaheim. Matt Cooke scored two goals and Evgeni Malkin added two assists. Malkin is becoming a leader on this team. As I‚Äôve mentioned here and there, the players look to Malkin as a leader on the ice. In the past couple weeks, Hal Gill has become more vocal in the locker room. The Ducks are struggling losing four of their last five and are 2-7-1 on the road since December 1st.
The Wilkes Barre/ Penguins: Wilkes Barre was highly represented last night with Paul Bissonnette, Bill Thomas, Chris Minard, Janne Pesonen and Dustin Jeffrey in the lineup. Bill Thomas centered the fourth line and also got some penalty kill time. He‚Äôs the kind of player who just goes out and does his role and you won‚Äôt notice him much. He played well last night and was 4-1 on faceoffs. Dustin Jeffrey also had a solid game and was 8 ‚Äì 6 on faceoffs. Janne Pesonen played (14:24) on the third line with Dustin Jeffrey and Chris Minard. It was the same story for Pesonen. Pesonen struggles in the corners and plain and simple he‚Äôs a perimeter player. Pesonen missed out on some prime scoring chances when rebounds were laying right in front of the net because he wasn‚Äôt driving to the net. I‚Äôve seen him play in almost 10 NHL games now counting the four preseason games he played in and my take on Pesonen is we wouldn‚Äôt even be talking about him if he wasn‚Äôt such a household name overseas. NHL scouts don‚Äôt always get it right but there‚Äôs a reason he‚Äôs a 26 years old and has never been a regular in the NHL.
Penguins/Isles not a good match?: The Penguins, Bruins, Blackhawks and Ducks are among four teams to have discussions with Islanders GM Garth Snow about forward Bill Guerin. The Penguins in the market for a top 6 forward and veteran forward (with playoff experience) don‚Äôt appear to be a good match for the Islanders who don‚Äôt want to take much salary the other way. Teams won‚Äôt overpay for a 37 year old forward and a draft pick and mid tier prospect could get it done. Crosby and Guerin are very good friends and despite the Penguins struggles, sources tell me he would waive his NTC to Pittsburgh.
Penguins scouting Leafs?: I never look too much into the Penguins having scouts in a particular building on any giving night but with the trade deadline 6 weeks away I figured I would mention that the Penguins had two representatives at the Leafs game on Thursday night. There‚Äôs been some talk of the Penguins having interest in Nik Antropov. Leafs GM Brian Burke has been actively shopping Jason Blake who had a hat trick Thursday but Blake has three years left on his contract which doesn‚Äôt interest the Penguins. Pittsburgh also had two scouts at the Blue Jackets game on Tuesday. Pittsburgh does a lot of scouting in Columbus. Pittsburgh and Edmonton have been scouting each other since about December. Eric Cole is not on the Penguins radar.
Pascal Dupuis improving: Pascal Dupuis went through a full workout with the team on Friday for the first time in over a week. Dupuis has missed four consecutive games and an ankle injury. His skating is not 100% yet but he looked much better on Friday than he did Thursday when he struggled with his stops and starts during Thursday‚Äôs skating session with the Penguins strength and conditioning coach. Dupuis eyes Sunday as a possible return.
The Penguins practice at 12:00 p.m. today.