The Latest Trade Chatter
Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke made a significant splash today acquiring former all-star defenseman Dion Phaneuf from the Calgary Flames and goalie J.S. Giguere from the Anaheim Ducks.
Burke has sent a culture shock through Toronto and will likely tweak his roster some more as the trade deadline approaches.
However, there is not a deal with Pittsburgh in the works at this moment.
It has been no secret that the Penguins are targeting Leafs winger Alex Ponikarvosky as we reported in early Janauary the Penguins have been heavily scouting the Leafs winger.
Pittsburgh has recently inquired on Ponikarovsky but are not willing to meet Burke’s asking price, which according to a source is Maxime Talbot and a 2nd round draft choice.
There are strong indications that Burke is going to see how his “new team” looks prior to making any more significant moves.
Toronto has lost nearly 38% of their scoring with today’s trades and Burke is still open to signing Ponikarovsky to a long-term extension. The 29 year old winger has 19 goals and 39 points, on pace for a 28 goal season.
Pittsburgh remains interested but the asking price will have to come when the trade gates open.
Meanwhile, Carolina Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford continues to seek a high return for Ray Whitney that has many GM’s hanging up the phone.
Last week I learned the asking price was at a 1st round pick and now there is talk that Rutherford is seeking a young top-6 defenseman along with a high draft pick.
Pittsburgh has made inquiries into Whitney and defenseman Andrew Alberts, with Carolina asking for Alex Goligoski and high draft pick, likely a 2nd or 3rd round pick.
A price the Penguins have absolutely no interest in. However, many inside the organization expect Rutherford’s price to come down but at this moment he is looking to sell high on Whitney who is drawing significant interest around the league.
What were seeing right now is a lot of GM’s shooting for the stars.
*Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch and jumping on the R.J. Umberger speculation. Portzline writes, “The Blue Jackets have had trade talks with Pittsburgh regarding winger Raffi Torres, whom they are almost certain to move before the March 3 trade deadline. Best guess is the Jackets are seeking a second-round draft pick.”
“But the Penguins would like to shoot higher than Torres. Buzz around the NHL is they’re planning to take a run at Blue Jackets forward R.J. Umberger, who grew up in the Pittsburgh suburb of Plum.”
Torres has been another winger being linked to Pittsburgh but he falls into the same category of Ponikarovsky; The Penguins will not overpay for him and will certainly not give up the 2nd round pick that the Blue Jackets likely covet.
Torres has 16 goals on the season but is a fringe top-6 forward.
Regarding Umberger, I spoke to Aaron on Friday when Mark Madden brought up the idea of going after him.
Aaron who is very much on the inside regarding the Blue Jackers organization told me, “It would take a boatload to get Umberger. The CBJ value him above his market value, because he’s become the heart and soul of the club, not nash. Not saying they wouldn’t do it – they love letang – but they have even less heart if he gets moved.”
The Penguins have yet to make a play for Umberger and it remains to be seen if they will. I also have my doubts Pittsburgh would consider moving Letang for Umberger straight up.