Trade Deadline Watch: 4th Line Type Centers

*Story Highlights*
*Where the Hurricanes are trending with Derek Ryan
*Latest on Matt Cullen
*Mark Letestu still a fallback option?
*Max Domi’s Availability + Mario Lemieux close friendship with Tie Domi

–As the Penguins have zeroed in on acquiring Derick Brassard, here’s the latest chatter on fallback options were the Penguins to strike out on Brassard —

Carolina Hurricanes: 64 Points, one point out of second wildcard spot:

Games Remaining before Deadline: vs Pittsburgh (2/23), @ Boston (2/24)

Trending: 0-2-1 in last Three Games, 3-4-2 overall their last nine games

Latest: Hurricanes GM Ron Francis has pressure from the Hurricanes new ownership group to keep the roster competitive if they remain in the mix for a playoff spot at the deadline.  Francis has been tabbed as being a smart buyer at the deadline.

Relating to the Penguins, the player to watch has been center Derek Ryan.

Ryan 31, has 11 goals and 15 assists on the season. He is a strong possession player and we’ve talked about him in the past as a player the Penguins have identified as a potential fit to play that combo 3rd line/4th line center role along with Riley Sheahan.

The talk on Ryan 3-4 weeks ago was that Carolina intended to keep Ryan but internally the team is said to have placed a 2nd round pick as value for Ryan and would consider an offer in that range depending where things stood at the deadline. However, NHL executives see Ryan’s value as more in the 3rd or 4th round range.

Ryan not known as a strong defensive player, has also cooled off significantly this month with no points in his last 11 games that will put the Hurricanes in an interesting situation.

If the Hurricanes drop these next two games before the deadline, [hide] it’s not a stretch Carolina even jumps at moving Ryan for a third rounder as Ryan has now been demoted to the 4th line this week.

Minnesota Wild: 71 Pts, tied for final wildcard spot

Remaining Schedule before Deadline: @ New Jersey (2/22), @ New York (2/23), vs St. Louis (2/25)

Trending: 6-2-2 in their last 10 games

Latest: The Minnesota Wild moving Matt Cullen has made less and less sense in recent weeks. Cullen’s play has started to uptick a bit, a goal and assist in Monday’s win over the Islanders, and his role has increased in now seeing time as the third line center. Cullen’s playing around 13-14 minutes a game over the last 5-6 games, right around where he was in Pittsburgh last season.

But, Jim Rutherford’s admiration of Cullen can’t totally rule out a reunion, depending on how a few things fall into place.

These next three games before the deadline will tell the story with Minnesota. They lose all three and Pittsburgh still hasn’t added a center by Monday morning, a source close to the situation says a conversation could then happen between the two sides but Cullen coming back is now being regarded as a longshot.

Mark Letestu remains another backburner situation to watch if the Penguins strike out on Brassard.

The Penguins made an offer for Letestu in January and got close to acquiring him, though, no serious talks have happened since.

Letestu has 8 goals and 10 assists on the season. He has really struggled offensively with 0 goals in 24 games but the organization still views him as an upgrade over Carter Rowney. I don’t think they’re as excited about adding him as they were in early January but he remains on their board.

Edmonton has been holding out for a second rounder. Pittsburgh and others most likely see Letestu’s value being a third rounder now.

— One NHL source wondered If Mario Lemieux’s very close friendship to Tie Domi could eventually lead to the Penguins giving Coyotes young center Max Domi a needed fresh start, whether it’s at the deadline or a summer deal.

Phoenix, though, still has a decent ask for Domi and a team acquiring Domi would have to be really sure.[/hide]