***A run down on the latest Penguins trade buzz***
Penguins finalize pre-trade deadline evaluations
The Pittsburgh Penguins finalized their pre-trade deadline evaluations this week and with just 11 games remaining before the March 3rd trade deadline, Pittsburgh is exploring a number of options as the team has barely played .500 hockey since early December.
What most NHL teams do prior to the trade deadline is comprise a list of “viable targets” and “reach targets.” It’s believed Pittsburgh is focused on adding help up front and have not ruled out adding defensive depth.
On somewhat of a small trade front, Pittsburgh and Carolina have held trade talks regarding Hurricanes defenseman Andrew Alberts. Alberts, 28, (6-4, 220lbs), has 6 points on the season and is an impressive minus-1 on a Hurricanes team that has given up 167 goals. Alberts has one year remaining on his contract with a cap hit of $1.05 million. Pittsburgh is willing to offer a lower tier prospect for Alberts.
Alberts would provide the Penguins some much needed toughness on their backend but would just be brought in as a depth player. There is some thought that Alberts and winger Ray Whitney could be heading to Pittsburgh but a Canes source tells me this morning that Pittsburgh and Carolina have yet to hold any kind of substantive talks regarding Whitney to this point.
Whitney is considered by the organization as one of those “viable targets” but is drawing significant interest from Boston, Los Angeles, Vancouver and Calgary. Meanwhile, other “viable targets” include,
winger Alexei Ponikarovsky (18 goals – 15 assists – 33 pts). A source in the organization characterized Blues winger Paul Kariya as a “reach target” at this point due to his salary and the Blues not ready to sell just yet.
There will be no movement on the Kariya front for a while.
As expected Thrashers winger Ilya Kovalchuk is not under any kind of consideration from Pittsburgh. With the Thrashers still in the playoff race, it’s not clear if Pittsburgh will be in on any available wingers on the Thrashers roster.
Thrashers GM Don Waddell has a very good relationship with Ray Shero.
Meanwhile, I’m told Pittsburgh is not very high on the current winger market and could make a bold move and go after an elite defenseman on the trade block that will be a free agent at seasons end. However, that’s a story for another day as it’s the least possible scenario being explored.
Although Kings GM Dean Lombardi overvalues players on the Penguins roster, Kings defenseman Jack Johnson is considered a major reach as the Penguins don’t appear willing to move the needed assets and the Kings aren’t actively looking to move Johnson, contrary to other reports.
Panthers forward Nathan Horton is regarded as the perfect kind of winger for Sidney Crosby but he won’t be coming to Pittsburgh. To get Horton out of Florida, it will take a lot to happen. Panthers being out of the playoff race and a 4-for-1 swap, with Kris Letang and a top prospect like a Luca Caputi going the other way.
Players drawing trade interest include Jay McKee, Pascal Dupuis, Kris Letang, Max Talbot and Ruslan Fedotenko to some extent.
Los Angeles, Chicago and Nashville are showing interest in McKee with Chicago and Los Angeles highly interested.
Prospects Dustin Jeffrey and Carl Sneep have been heavily scouted of late. There is some doubt that Pittsburgh and Sneep will come to terms following his senior season at Boston College. There was a fallout last spring when Sneep didn’t want to turn pro.
Pittsburgh may explore a trade for him.