The New York Islanders signed Matt Moulson to a 3 year – $9.4 million extension today, taking off who I’m told was the Penguins prime target for the upcoming trade deadline.
Sources say internal discussions inside the organization had centered around the team making a potential play for Moulson, if the Islanders were to make him available at some point next month.
Pittsburgh, Boston and Los Angeles were among several teams to make inquiries about Moulson earlier this month but the Islanders never made him available as they’re priority was to see whether they could get a deal done with his camp before the deadline.
As things are shaping up, I’m told that some members of the Pens brass feel it’s “unlikely” that the team will add a top-2 line winger before the February 28th trade deadline.
The Penguins are cap strapped and as of right now can only take on a max cap hit of close to $700,000. One contact said that number will rise slightly as the trade deadline approaches but not enough for the Penguins to make a move for true help on the wing, without moving a salary or two.
Another obstacle for the Penguins is that this is a weak group of wingers that project to be available from sellers and Moulson is said to have been one of the few realistic winger targets who enticed the Penguins hockey operations staff.
Selling off prospects or draft picks won’t help the Penguins cause to bring in a top-6 winger because of their cap situation.
In past seasons, the Penguins were close to $1 million under the cap which gave them the ability to bring on $3 million or so in salary due to pro-rated salaries. Not the case this season.
The Penguins are also believed to be pretty comfortable with their current roster that has yet to see Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal play together in more than 2 games.
Again this is as things stand right now but the likely scenario according to sources is possibly making a depth move for their 3rd and 4th lines.
The team is said to have renewed interest in former Penguin Jarkko Ruutu, according to some chatter from league contacts.
*Just wanted to put this out there — Some wild Pens rumors have been out there like a blogger claiming a few weeks ago to have an inside source that the team’s top-2 targets are Ales Hemsky and Martin Havlat. Those are bogus along with Olli Jokinen reportedly being a target.