The Penguins have caught many around the league by surprise in their ability to overcome the losses of Ryan Whitney and Sergei Gonchar.
Ryan Whitney is skating and looks to be in the best shape of his career. Whitney is determined to resemble the player he was two seasons ago and I expect him to have a big season when he returns to the lineup in December.
Is Ryan Whitney trade bait?
The Penguins have received a lot of inquiries about Whitney in the past year and despite the emergence of Alex Goligoski and Kris Letang, the Penguins view Ryan Whitney as the heir apparent to Sergei Gonchar and GM‚Äôs around the league know if will take an offer the Penguins can‚Äôt refuse for them to consider moving Whitney.
The Penguins are shopping……..
Around the league there is speculation that teams won‚Äôt be mortgaging the future for top tier rental players.1st round picks and mid tier prospects as always will be in play but young core players could be off limits compared to past seasons. People from Minnesota were talking about this at Tuesday‚Äôs morning skate and how the Wild are finding this out in regards to offers coming their way for Marian Gaborik. Concerns about the salary cap is believed to be the prime reason.
Penguins shopping Fedotenko and Eaton?
Sources tell me ownership sees the Penguins having a golden opportunity in the wide open Eastern Conference to make another significant run. The pressure continues to mount on the front office for the Penguins to add a top flight winger. For now the Penguins are taking a conservative approach and are shopping Ruslan Fedotenko who does have some value and defenseman Mark Eaton to see what kind of return they could fetch.
Eaton and Fedotenko have drawn interest from the Chicago Blackhawks which has fueled some speculation among sources that the Penguins should pick up their pursuit of Martin Havlat and offer Fedotenko, Eaton/prospects/or draft picks to see if the Hawks would bite for the chance to unload Havlat‚Äôs salary.
Things may change in the near future but for now the indications are the Penguins will continue to explore the market with the mindset of their young core players being off-limits unless a offer they can‚Äôt refuse comes their way. That means Staal, Whitney, Letang and Goligoski will not be actively shopped by the Penguins to upgrade their top two lines. Players like Fedotenko, Eaton, draft picks and prospects will be in play this season.
Prospects who are off-limits
1. Luca Caputi ‚Äì off limits‚Ä¶. The Penguins received more calls about Caputi and Goligoski last season than Angelo Esposito. Shero valued both players over Esposito according to a source. As the season progresses and the Penguins remain in the market for a top 6 winger, Caputi‚Äôs name will come up but don‚Äôt look for him to be suiting up for anybody this season other than the WBS Penguins
I‚Äôm also hearing Shero would be very reluctant to move Carl Sneep, Nick Johnson and Casey Pierro-Zabotel, in any deal. All three players are valued very high by the Penguins and the Penguins really like Johnson‚Äôs and Pierro-Zabotel‚Äôs potential.
Prospects who could be trade bait that have value around the league.
F Dustin Jeffrey, D Brian Strait, D Alex Grant.
Penguins have a deep young blue line with Whitney, Goligoski, Letang and Sneep the teams #2 rated prospect waiting in the wings. Grant and Strait will be expendable.
Penguins are active
The months leading up to the trade deadline¬†is always fun as teams explore potential trade partners. Penguins scouts have been active but for now they don‚Äôt have any set in stone targets like they did last year with Hossa,Jokinen and Havlat.
Lightning to shop St. Louis?
A source close to a Penguins scout still believes the Tampa Lightning will look to move forward Marty St. Louis later in the season to clear enough cap space to land a younger top tier winger for Vincent Lecavier via free agency.
More to come. Check back Thursday afternoon for a update on Janne Pesonen and whether the Penguins have any plans to call him up or do they see him as trade bait this season?
Photo courtesy of Dan4th