Penguins GM Ray Shero made his first splash of the season this afternoon, acquiring James Neal and Matt Niskanen from the Dallas Stars in exchange for defenseman Alex Goligoski.
With the trade deadline seven days away, the Penguins are likely not done and are expected to remain active in trade talks leading into Monday’s deadline.
The Penguins who are still seeking scoring help at the winger position, have the ability to take on $3 million in salaries (max cap hit), according to capgeek. The inability to put the puck in the net remains a concern even with the acquisition of Neal, and especially with Sidney Crosby’s status for this season unclear.
“I’ve got a little idea,” Shero said. “But based upon Sid it’s hard to make a determination because I just don’t know.””I have no inside information on Sidney Crosby and when he’s coming back.”
Pittsburgh I’m told has some targets in mind but are back to waiting for the market to evolve. They appear to likely go right up until Sunday or Monday before making another deal.
The chatter surrounding Alexei Kovalev has died down with the addition of Neal. There was interest and still is in Kovalev but he’s always been a player the Penguins weren’t going to move on until the team saw how the market was going to evolve.
They didn’t want to tie up cap space in Kovalev and miss out on a potential deal that could emerge.
The asking price for Kovalev remains low but according to capgeek’s numbers, Penguins have to get creative to add Kovalev and move some salary (looking into that to confirm).
The Penguins are willing to move a conditional draft pick.
Florida’s Chris Higgins is among the players that remain in play for Pittsburgh. Cory Stillman to a lesser extent.
One name out there that the Penguins are believed to be waiting to see if he becomes available is Toronto’s Clark MacArthur. If contract talks go nowhere between Leafs GM Brian Burke and agent Don Meehan this week, Burke is expected to move MacArthur.
At the center position, New Jersey’s Jason Arnott makes more sense now given that the Penguins have added a top-line winger and with Sidney Crosby’s return this season still in doubt by some team insiders.
Arnott, though, has not been made available yet (may not) by New Jersey with the Devils surging in the standings.
If he becomes available, Arnott is expected to draw serious interest from the likes of Tampa Bay and Washington. The center market is not strong.
GM Ray Shero spoke confident of defenseman Matt Niskanen filling a 3rd pairing role and is hopeful a change of scenery helps Niskanen. Pittsburgh could be rolling the dice on that assumption.
Niskanen is not strong defensively by any means and is not close to an Alex Goligoski from an offensive standpoint.
It won’t surprise to see the Penguins look into the trade market for a veteran rental defenseman, if the price is right.