The Pittsburgh Penguins ( 29-26-6) enter Monday morning in 10th place in the Eastern Conference and four points out of the playoffs.
The Penguins have given up 22 goals in their last five games.
The NHL trade deadline is nine days away and the Penguins have four games remaining before the March 4th deadline.
The Penguins have not ruled out adding a physical defenseman at the deadline.
Ray Shero‚Äôs philosophy has been all about the Penguins young core since he was named General Manager in 2006. Shero has contended that by locking up Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Ryan Whitney, Marc Andre Fleury and Jordan Staal, the Penguins would be serious contenders every season.
The Penguins have $30.4 million committed to their young core for the 2009-2010 season and since the Penguins have so many needs (not just a scoring winger), Shero is now willing to part with some of his core.
The Latest Trade Talk & More
Desperation kicking in as the trade deadline approaches: Ray Shero has always been thought of as a patient man after working under Predators GM Dave Poile. The firing of Michel Therrien is seen as a desperate move after a major deal fell through after Leafs defenseman Tomas Kaberle made it known he wouldn‚Äôt waive his NTC to Ottawa.
The pressure is mounting on Shero as ownership has made it known missing the playoffs is not an option. There is also a ton of pressure on Shero to get a winger for Crosby by the drop of the face-off for the 2009-2010 season. If the Penguins haven‚Äôt resolved that issue by the start of next season, Shero would be on the hot seat.
Eric Cole Rumors: The Edmonton Oilers have approached the Penguins about Eric Cole to drive up the market for Cole. Montreal, Boston, Buffalo, Carolina are showing interest. I‚Äôm told Pittsburgh remains on the fence about him and a lot of this speculation about Cole to Pittsburgh is being leaked to drive up the market for him.
The Oilers in the middle of a playoff chase want immediate help for Cole but they are in a precarious position. He has struggled this season (14 goals) and it is widely believed he has no interest in re-signing with the Oilers. The Oilers have inquired about Hal Gill and Ruslan Fedotenko.
Two Scenarios at the trade deadline the Penguins are exploring:
Plan A – Penguins add top tier winger: Shero is very active in trade talks inquiring about a slew of top 6 forwards we‚Äôve mentioned over the past month.. This is the Penguins primary goal with 9 days left
Plan B – Penguins add toughness up front/add physical defenseman. The goals against is a serious concern within the organization right now. A trade deadline like two years ago when the Penguins acquired Gary Roberts and Georges Laraque is a possibility. For now Shero‚Äôs main focus is adding a top tier winger. Adding a physical defenseman is an option the Penguins are exploring according to a source. Shero remains in talks with Bryan Murray about Senators forward Chris Neil. 6-8 teams are showing interest in Neil who is currently sidelined
Walsh meets with Ray Shero: NHL Agent Allan Walsh was in Pittsburgh about 10 days ago to meet with Ray Shero. Walsh represents Ruslan Fedotenko, Miroslav Satan, and Petr Sykora. While the meeting mostly centered around Petr Sykora (extension), Walsh indicated to Ray Shero that Ruslan Fedotenko has also expressed an desire to return to Pittsburgh in 09 but would like some long-term security such as a two year deal.
There are mixed opinions on Fedotenko in the organization, but I was told that the Penguins brass feels Fedotenko could be a valuable asset in a third line role and split duty on the one of the top two lines. Finding a winger for Crosby would give Fedotenko that option. Fedotenko signed a one year – $2.2 Million contract in the summer.
If Islanders defensemen Brendan Witt didn‚Äôt have another year left on his contract, the Penguins would be in on him. Witt is a player Lemieux has stated publically in the past that the he would love to have on his team.
Lightning GM Brian Lawton is frustrating rival GMs. According to a source, one day he is fielding offers for Marty St. Louis, the next he indicates he won‚Äôt move St. Louis under any circumstances. Pittsburgh, New York Rangers, Minnesota Wild and Edmonton Oilers were involved in talks with the Lightning about St. Louis earlier this month
So much for Sergei Gonchar needing some time to find his game. Opponents had a 5 month edge on him and he is still playing at a high level. I bet the Penguins wish they could say the same thing about Ryan Whitney.
Anyone not named Evgeni Malkin or Sidney Crosby is available for the right price.
more to come in the morning. Will be at Penguins practice at 11 and will have a report soon after.
The draft is going to be a very fun time if Shero doesn’t find his winger at the deadline. Some in the organization feel Whitney, Staal’s value will be much higher at the draft.
Photo courtesy of Dan4th