Story Highlights

*Personnel Decisions from LA Win
*On the Sheahan/Kessel fit
*Penguins in deep trade talks for Center
*Sharks Tierney one trade scenario that got away?
*Insight on why staff favors Hunwick over Cole

The Pittsburgh Penguins in a back-to-back situation turned to Casey DeSmith in goal and Pittsburgh came away with a 3-1 win over the Kings on Thursday.

Mike Sullivan has been lukewarm about playing DeSmith at any point and what do you know, DeSmith backstopped the Penguins to victory in making 28 saves and flashed very good side-to-side quickness. He was peppered in the first period as Pittsburgh was out-shot 11-3 in period one but unlike Jonathan Quick, DeSmith avoided letting soft goals win and the Penguins got a really nice win.

Some developments from this game connected to the trade deadline was [hide] Mike Sullivan moving Jake Guentzel to wing.

No one in the organization likes Guentzel at center long-term but the management group led by Jim Rutherford have believed that Guentzel at center is the Penguins best lineup in how it spreads the forward group out much more effectively.

In getting more 4th line matchups, Riley Sheahan has been a more impactful player with Guentzel at center because of the trickle-down effect.

Thursday’s game vs the Kings showed where Sheahan can struggle badly in certain matchups when placed as the third line center.

Against LA Sheahan was at 31 percent in possession, on the ice for 1 Scoring Chance For and 7 Against.

Moving Phil Kessel to the third line has worked with Guentzel at center because of the high-end skill set Guentzel has but Kessel and Sheahan are just not a good match as evident again vs the Kings.

Kessel was the Penguins worst possession player at 23% (5/16) in the win. Kessel and Sheahan played together for over nine minutes at even strength. They were minus-6 (1/7) in scoring chances.

Kessel had one shot on goal during 5 vs 5 play.

While the Penguins have given up much hope of landing a true impact center, the team has made multiple attempts to acquire [hide] Oilers center Mark Letestu in recent weeks, league sources confirm.

Few will regard the former Penguin as an impact center, but the Penguins believe he has the hockey IQ and skill set to upgrade the position.

A team source says the Penguins see Tyler Bozak similarities in Letestu when it comes to potentially pairing him with Kessel in how the Penguins feel Letestu would be able to get the puck to Kessel in the right spots.
Interest is significant enough in Letestu that the Penguins coaching staff have watched tape on Letestu as the Penguins have tried to swing a deal for the 32 year old center.

Offers from the Penguins have been made for Letestu but as of early this week, Edmonton was still contemplating what to do with Letestu and what to set his market at.

— Industry chatter is the Oilers are likely to seek a second round pick for Letestu but trade talks in recent weeks with the Penguins had Edmonton still in the mode that they haven’t punted on the season yet and have been looking at NHL type deals than future deals.

With the Oilers 10 points out of a playoff spot, though, it remains to be seen how much interest Ian Cole is to Edmonton now. The Oilers tried to acquire Cole in early December but the Penguins overplayed their hand and sought a high return. Now Cole’s trade value is plummeting as he continues to sit.

Cole is on the cusp of moving to 8th on the depth chart when Chad Ruhwedel returns.

Many have been wondering why Matt Hunwick over Cole?

Among the reasons is the coaching the staff likes Hunwick’s better skating ability to retrieve pucks and join the play.

— The Penguins play in San Jose Saturday night and on the topic of center targets, the Penguins earlier in the season made a hard push to acquire Sharks center Chris Tierney during the period before the Penguins settled on acquiring Riley Sheahan.

This is a player the Penguins really like but just like months ago when the Penguins tried to swing a deal, San Jose doesn’t have much interest in moving Tierney. Nonetheless, there’s disappointment the Penguins couldn’t find a trade match there.

Emerging as the Sharks third line centerman, Tierney, 23, has 11 goals and 8 assists on the season.[/hide]