Penguins fans got a glimpse of the star ability Evander Kane has on Sunday afternoon. All of the tools are there and he would not only upgrade the team significantly for the present but also for several years down the road as the Penguins at somepoint have to be thinking about long-term wingers for Sidney Crosby as Chris Kunitz is no spring chicken at age 34 and with the style of game he plays.
In reality, Kunitz is likely to start tailing off in the next year or two.
Although, there’s been no substantive trade talks between the Penguins and Jets, Kane is the type of player that the Penguins could be tempted to offer a significant package for before the March 5th trade deadline or in the summer.
Penguins scouts absolutely love Kane and top Penguins pro scout Don Waddell drafted Kane in the 2009 entry draft when he was GM of the Atlanta Thrashers. The scouting staff for the Penguins have made strong recommendations about Kane and the Penguins also appear to like Kane’s teammate Black Wheeler more than first believed, despite some concerns about the contract as Wheeler carries a $5.6 million cap hit through the 2018-2019 season.
Unfortunately for the Penguins, there might not be that puck moving defenseman for long-term winger fit out there in a trade like there was in previous trades where Shero struck gold.
When the Penguins acquired Chris Kunitz and Eric Tangradi in exchange for Ryan Whitney, it was a lucky situation where the Ducks over-valued a puck moving defenseman in Whitney and overlooked the serious foot injury he suffered in 2008 that led to him never being the same player again.
The Penguins acquiring James Neal and Matt Niskanen for Alex Goligoski was a special situation of the Penguins being able to take advantage of the Stars financial situation and an inexperienced GM who had a bad taste in his mouth towards Neal for many reasons, including a tough negotiation on a new contract that went through the summer of 2010 and into mid-September.
If the Penguins want to get the Jets to pickup the phone on Kane or Wheeler, it’s not only going to cost a top prospect and first round pick, but sources say there’s no way Winnipeg moves one of them without a young impact top-9 forward coming the other way, which Pittsburgh doesn’t have anyone of real interest to trade that they’d be willing.
Beau Bennett could become an enticing trade chip but what GM moves a Kane or Wheeler for a risky player like Bennett? A name I keep hearing the Jets would be enticed about is Brandon Sutter but the Penguins don’t want to move him. The only way Sutter comes into play in trade talks, which I believe wouldn’t happen until the summer, is if the Penguins get the sense that Sutter is intrigued about being a top-2 line center elsewhere. The priority is to sign him long-term.
In regards to not having a key forward to trade, It’s the same situation if Pittsburgh wanted to get into the Max Pacioretty market who the Canadiens are listening on, which many around the league just don’t understand. A big, young 30 goal scorer who has never played with a star center. That has James Neal pre-Penguins days written all over it.
A Kris Letang – Max Pacioretty swap sounds great on paper but the Penguins won’t move Letang this soon because they feel it will look bad to other players wanting to sign here (which I feel is ridiculous) and like Winnipeg, there’s few out there who feel Montreal can move Pacioretty without getting an impact forward or forwards in return.
The same goes for Carolina’s Jeff Skinner who I heard mentioned for the first time recently. The Hurricanes told teams coming out of the roster freeze that they are willing to listen to anyone not named Eric or Jordan Staal. It has Skinner popping up on the trade circuit but it would take a significant, significant package for the Canes to move Skinner and at least one or two impact forwards (along with prospects, top pick) would have to be coming the other way. He puts people in the seats down there.
While the Penguins are telling people behind the scenes they want to stay out of the rental top-6 market, sources believe at the end of the day they could be forced to venture into the rental market and there are some players they will be intrigued about at the right cost.
I’ll touch base on some names I’m hearing later in the week for a feature.