If I were Penguins GM Ray Shero, here are two trades I’d look into:
*D Alex Goligoski and a 2nd-round draft pick to Columbus for F R.J. Umberger.
I’m not just proposing this because R.J. is a long-time friend; it makes sense. Umberger can play any forward position and is a solid finisher who would slot easily with Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin. He’s clutch: Umberger has 14 goals in 26 NHL playoff games. His contract pays $3.75 million per through 2011-12. You can fit Umberger in under the cap via pro-rating this season. Next season, he consumes the money paid Goligoski and Bill Guerin.
Umberger, 27, has 18 goals and 19 assists in 58 games this season.
The Penguins have a surplus on defense. Who the sixth guy is doesn’t matter that much. Anyway, Ben Lovejoy has outplayed Goligoski during his brief NHL time. Columbus is ready to deal. This is worth investigating.
You can’t give Crosby and Malkin minimal help at wing forever. I’m for preserving the three-center model, but the Penguins don’t need this much depth on D.
That segues into my next idea:
*D Kris Letang and two 1st-round draft picks to Anaheim for W Bobby Ryan.
Ryan, 22, has 24 goals and 19 assists in 54 games this year.
Anaheim wants to cut payroll and, amazingly, the Ducks are shopping Ryan. Ryan makes $1.921 million and, like Letang, is a restricted free agent at year’s end. This deal would be contingent on Ryan inking a new pact. Pay him what you would have paid Letang, maybe a bit more. Ryan is a tremendous talent that could flank either Crosby or Malkin to great effect. The potential negative trickledown: Could you afford to keep Sergei Gonchar? If not, could you afford to lose both Letang and Gonchar?
Probably not. That’s why the Goligoski/Umberger proposal is a bit more realistic. I don’t see the Ducks pulling the trigger on swapping Ryan, anyway.
I would also hesitate to trade Letang. He may be just as talented as Ryan. Letang’s just more of a work in progress. I have no problem trading draft choices. This isn’t 1977 and you’re not getting Hartland Monahan. The Penguins have a team already chock-full of first-round picks, which is why they have so many cap issues to deal with.
Mark Madden hosts a radio show 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WXDX-FM (105.9).