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Insider Only Sources: Pens brass see’s top-6 winger as biggest need but current market has team evaluating depth options

New names surfacing for Pens

Trade talks league wide have finally started to pick up a bit in the past 48 hours but the market remains a bad one for buyers due to a limited amount of sellers and high asking prices for aging UFA’s on the downside of their careers like Montreal Canadiens defenseman Hal Gill.
As one scout joked last week, “any defenseman with a pulse is worth a second round pick” and the market for a role player is set thanks to the Tampa Bay Lightning who got a very nice return for Dominic Moore, acquiring a second round pick from the San Jose Sharks. Moore was said to be a Penguins target as the team has been seeking depth options.
The Moore trade will only enhance the asking prices for the likes of Travis Moen and Paul Gaustad.
Meanwhile, aside from Rick Nash, the top-6 winger market is projected to be among the worst in recent years as Ryan Smyth, Tuomo Ruutu are off the trade block, and notable names Teemu Selanne, Ray Whitney, Shane Doan, and PA Parenteau are not available at this point.
For young players like Blues winger Chris Stewart, Canucks winger Mason Raymond and Toronto’s trio of Mikhail Grabovski, Nikolai Kulemin, Clark MacArthur who are proven scorers now or in the past and have high upside, the asking prices are high.
However, for teams looking to take a chance, several underachieving wingers are available including Ales Hemsky (in contract talks with Oilers), Brad Boyes, David Jones, Dustin Penner, and Andrei Kostitsyn among others.
Sources say GM Ray Shero and top members of the Penguins brass met last night for almost an hour following yesterday’s game to discuss where things stand for the team on the trade front and those discussions continued throughout today.
Ideally, team sources indicate the Penguins see their biggest need being a scoring forward not a defenseman, as the team has big concerns about their inability to score at even strength.

Coyotes winger Ray Whitney whose 39 even strength points rank 10th in the league, tops the team’s wishlist among rental wingers but Phoenix is not yet shopping Whitney and might not, and teams such as Boston, New York Rangers, San Jose and Los Angeles have significant interest.
The current market though has the Penguins exploring all options to improve their hockey club with more realistic options including adding possible depth on the blueline, and a versatile depth forward in the mold of a Travis Moen or possibly Paul Gaustad who would be costly. Meanwhile, the team is said to have some level of interest in lesser role players such as Lightning forward Adam Hall, and Adam Burish of the Dallas Stars, both scheduled to be unrestricted free agents.
Adding a center can’t be ruled out. For weeks talk out of the organization has pegged the Penguins evaluating gritty versatile forwards with size and toughness like a Travis Moen, but Pittsburgh continues their due dilligence on 3rd and 4th line center options.
One name to surface in the past couple days is Blue Jackets center Samuel Pahlsson, a former teammate of Dan Bylsma’s with the Anaheim Ducks, Stanley Cup champion, and a highly regarded shutdown center just a season or two ago.
The question among scouts is what the 34 year old has left in the tank.
“Pahlsson was signed to be a shut-down center in big games, but he’s going to end his Blue Jackets career without making the playoffs, ” an NHL scout who covers the Columbus Blue Jackets on a regular basis told Inside Pittsburgh Sports.
“Does he still have gas in the tank and the ability to unplug the opponent’s skilled players? That’s the question. Frankly, he’s been a consistently adequate player in his time in Columbus.”
“He is a decent skater still at this stage of his career, and he’s good on faceoffs, good in his own zone. He’s not a big guy, but he has a keen understanding of positioning and leverage along the boards, which allows him to win pucks against bigger, faster guys. Good guy on the penalty kill.
“I’d say he’s a fourth-liner on a really good team now, but he’s a guy who could eat big minutes when his club is protecting a lead.”
Pahlsson, 34, has 2 goals – 9 assists for 11 points and a minus-6 rating in 56 games played this season. The 6-foot-0, 202-pound Pahlsson is 51% on faceoffs and ranks 5th on the Blue Jackets with 94 hits, which would rank 4th among Penguin forwards.
Pahlsson has averaged 14:55 minutes per game in ice time and 2:23 per game on the penalty kill. The veteran forward carries a $2.65 million cap hit and acquiring Pahlsson on the February 27th deadline, would cost a team approximately $573,000 against the cap.

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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