Trade discussions surrounding the Penguins are heating up with Friday’s roster freeze looming but due to the Penguins inability to clear salary last week, team sources indicate a trade involving Pittsburgh before Friday’s deadline is highly unlikely right now.
Anything can change with just one phone call but don’t count on it. The constant callups from Wilkes Barre have altered the Penguins average cap space and a few of Pittsburgh top “defensemen” targets have yet to be made available for trade.
The Stanley Cup Champions top priority heading into the March 3rd deadline is to add a second line winger and a defensive defenseman. Sources tell me management has the wiggle room to add one of those priorties by March 3rd but will have to move salary to accomplish both priorities.
That has put a Ruslan Fedotenko into play, who is drawing interest around the league.
A few things to ponder: The Penguins have not made an offer for Hurricanes winger Ray Whitney or Maple Leafs winger Alex Ponikarovsky. There’s some media outlets indicating Pittsburgh has made offers for both players but that is completely false. They like Whitney, just not the asking price or his demands.
The Penguins have no incentive of coming close to the Hurricanes demands of a 1st round/pick and a mid tier prospect. For Whitney to end up with the Penguins after the Olympic break it will be on Pittsburgh’s terms; Asking price will have to come down significantly and Whitney’s not getting an extension from Pittsburgh under any circumstances.
**Meanwhile, Pittsburgh’s focus of late has been in on Blue Jackets winger Raffi Torres. Penguins GM Ray Shero, Director of player personnel Dan MacKinnon and Tom Fitzgerald have all made scouting trips to Columbus in the past 10 days with their eye on Torres and a Jackets veteran defenseman to a lesser extent.
The two sides have exchanged names/prospects but plenty of others are in the mix for Torres, including the Los Angeles Kings, Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames, Philadelphia Flyers and the Washington Capitals.
***On Wednesday, Pittsburgh had scouts in Colorado and Columbus, while Toronto and Nashville were in attendance at Mellon Arena Wednesday.
The Penguins have been frequently scouting the Thrashers, Blue Jackets and Maple Leafs over the past month.
The Predators trip to Mellon Arena was a normal scouting trip but a league source said they have had their eye on Penguins defenseman Alex Goligoski and
forward Ruslan Fedotenko. Pittsburgh has made it known of their interest in Predators defenseman Dan Hamhuis who will be Pittsburgh’s top target after the Olympic break, multiple sources indicate, but it remains to be seen if they have the “impact player” in return to satisfy the Predators demands.
Boston, Philadelphia, Washington and New Jersey are expected to show significant interest in Hamhuis. One league source considers Boston the early favorite.
***Other defensemen high on the Penguins list that have yet to be made available is Florida Panthers defenseman Dennis Seidenberg and Islanders defenseman Andy Sutton.
As mentioned in previous posts, there are some much lesser names on the Penguins radar.
Pittsburgh went into Wednesday’s game ranked 24th in team defense.
While discussions are heating up, Pittsburgh is still exploring a number of options as a number of teams have yet to go into sell mode.
Like last year, there is believed to be a few longshot deals being discussed like earlier talks with Dallas. Last years longshot deal was trying to re-acquire Ryan Malone.
Look for more updates throughout the next 24 hours. Nothing is close right now but like I mentioned, anything can change with just one phone call.