Much needless argument is manufactured on this site and others like it regarding the Penguins’ situation at wing. Debate away. But things won’t change. No significant moves will be made to upgrade the Pens’ wingers. Not now, and not at the trade deadline.
This is what General Manager Ray Shero has chosen: Strength down the middle, mediocrity on the flanks. If Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal can live with it, so can you.
Let’s get this one out of the way: The Penguins will NOT acquire Ilya Kovalchuk as a rental player at the deadline. Even if Shero could maneuver cap room, Kovalchuk will fetch Atlanta far more than the Pens would want to surrender. The Penguins’ future is, indeed, NOW – but you can’t totally pillage your future or give up young wingers who can solve the problem long-term.
Which brings us to…
Wingers Luca Caputi and Eric Tangradi are relied upon to skate on the Penguins’ top two lines, Caputi within a year, Tangradi within two. Neither will be Kevin Stevens, but each could score 20-25 goals while providing a physical element that opens up space for the star centers.
If that doesn’t pan out, maybe the Pens can keep re-signing Ruslan Fedotenko.
The Penguins seem content to scramble indefinitely at wing, and why not? It’s the easiest position to effectively “get by” at. There are tons of average, affordable wingers to be plugged in, medium talents that can be elevated to varying degrees by Crosby, Malkin and Staal.
The Pens have great players at far more impactful positions. That’s why they’re champions. Being loaded at center, defense and goal but thin at wing is by design, and it works.
The Penguins may trade from their defensive depth for a low-level rent-a-wing at the deadline, but that’s as far as it will go. Anaheim’s Teemu Selanne seems to be flavor of the day on the message boards, but he’s older than Bill Guerin, for the love of God. Selanne is only marginally more productive than Chris Kunitz. If, as expected, Selanne plays for Finland at the Vancouver Olympics, you’ll be able to soak up what’s left of him with a sponge come playoff time.
Anyway, if you’re going to mindlessly daydream, daydream about Tara Reid. There’s a much better chance of you getting her than there is of the Penguins getting a star winger.
Mark Madden hosts a radio show 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WXDX-FM (105.9).