Pittsburgh Penguins General Manager Ray Shero shocked much of the hockey world in February 2008, acquiring sniper Marian Hossa from the Atlanta Thrashers. It was the type of bold move, many didn’t expect.
If Shero makes another bold move in 2010 for an elite player, it won’t be for Hossa’s former teammate Ilya Kovalchuk and it won’t be at the forward position.
Pittsburgh has no interest in making a play for Kovalchuk, sources re-iterated this week. Pittsburgh will not explore any kind of scenario that will make them a viable suitor for Kovalchuk
Pittsburgh though is not very high on the current winger market. After conducting their pre-trade deadline evaluations, the organization has come to conclusion that they won’t over-pay for any of their mid-tier winger targets, Ray Whitney, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Paul Kariya, ect.
One scenario the organization is exploring, is stocking up on defense for a Stanley Cup run, instead of the forward position due to what team sources have described as an “average winger market.”
The Penguins are believed to be mulling a scenario of making a run at an “elite veteran defenseman” with close ties to Owner Mario Lemieux and who spoke highly of the Penguins organization during the free agency period in summer 2005.
That defenseman is Anaheim Ducks future hall-of-famer Scott Niedermayer. There is no doubt that the Penguins will look into Niedermayer, a league source who attended Thursday night’s game told me this morning.
Niedermayer’s future with the Anaheim Ducks is up in the air. The Ducks won’t explore any potential trades regarding Niedermayer until the Olympic Break and whether he gets moved will be his choice and where he goes will also be his choice.
For one, Pittsburgh and Anaheim are not actively engaged in trade talks right now and Ducks GM Bob Murray is not engaged with any teams regarding Niedermayer yet.
That won’t happen until the Olympic Break, so the asking price remains to be seen.
However, Penguins assistant general manager Jason Botterill has scouted Anaheim twice this week and I’m told Pittsburgh has made it known of their interest.
Pittsburgh also has interest in Pavel Kubina as a rental if the Thrashers begin to shop him, which is up in the air at this point.
Known suitors for Niedemayer also include Chicago, Vancouver, and New Jersey.
Any substantive talks are weeks away and landing Niedermayer can be characterized as “unlikely” but don’t be surprised to hear some Niedermayer to Pittsburgh buzz during the Olympic break.