Monday, February 27, 2012

GTOG NHL Trade Deadline Live Blog

Although the rumors are that today is going to be a (relatively) quiet day, we'll be here to cover all the action.  We will update this post throughout the day, so make sure to check back often.  And while you're waiting,  you can listen to our podcast wrapping up the weekend for the Pens and previewing the deadline below.


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Live-Blog after the jump...


4:47PM: Upon further reflection, this might have been the most uninteresting trade deadline in any sport ever, including football.  What a dud.  That's not necessarily a bad thing for the Pens, however, because the truth now is the same as it was at the beginning of the year, and would be the same no matter who the Pens acquired today -- with a healthy Sidney Crosby, the Pens are as good of a bet as anyone to win the Cup.  Nothing the Pens could have done today would have answered the one question that needs answering, but is also the one question for which there is no answer: when is he coming back?

4:08PM: Most uninteresting trade deadline in memory, and we have no problem with the Penguins standing pat. When UFA Paul Gaustad is fetching a #1 draft pick, that's not a favorable market. More in a bit after Shero speaks.

3:05PM: So the deadline has come and gone, and Rick Nash is still in Columbus.  Good for Columbus for not panicking.  The guy is under contract for another several years -- if you can't get what you want for him today, then just trade him in the offseason.  Or keep him.  The whole point of signing him long-term is to have control over what you do with him.  If CBJ wanted Callahan instead of Dubinsky, and couldn't get him, so be it.

In other trade news, very little has happened, though more news may trickle out.  Gaustad goes to Nashville. Brian Rolston goes to Boston.  That would have been a relevant trade in 2008.

Shero speaks at 4:15.  There really are no questions to be answered except for the obvious one...

2:05PM: Sammy Pahlsson goes from Columbus to Vancouver.  Rumors of a Brad Stuart trade from Detroit to the Rangers are being called "ridiculously false."  Johnny Oduya from Winnipeg to Chicago.

1:47PM: Sadly, we knew it would reach this point as well: there is a guy old enough to be in the NHL named "Carter Ashton."  Just wait another 4 years when Brayden Jayden gets traded for Brody Madison-Fifer.

1:15PM: We knew it would get to this point, and it actually took longer than we thought.  Writers on Twitter are now saying that they are hearing things, that those things are unconfirmed, then when those things are confirmed to be wrong, the writers are saying "hey, I was right ... I said it was unconfirmed."  What a dud of a day.  Mike Commodore got traded to Tampa from Detroit for a conditional seventh round pick.  We're hearing that the condition is if Mike Commodore gets recognized at a restaurant in Tampa at any point over the next two months, it becomes a sixth round pick.

11:37AM: Quick thought on Rick Nash while absolutely nothing is happening.  If you're Columbus, and you have an embarrassingly terrible team this season, why trade Rick Nash today, in a hurried situation?  There's no rush and/or need to get rid of him now.  Unless you can really take advantage of a desperate team, the better bet is patience.

11:10AM:  Kostitsyn trade to Nashville is done. Because anytime you can get a gang like this back together, you have to do it.

10:34AM: The Kostitsyns are reportedly being reunited in Nashville. Difficult for us to drum up any fake emotion about something that happens with the Predators. In other news, the best part about Sacha Baron Cohen dumping Kim Jong Il's ashes on Ryan Seacrest is at the 1:40 mark of this video. Check the left side, where our man Chris Harrison tries desperately to get Seacrest's attention.


10:07AM: Rick Santorum weighs in on the possibility of the Pens trading Ben Lovejoy.  "I find Ben Lovejoy to be pompous and arrogant, and I think he tries to indoctrinate people with all his talk of having played hockey in college.  I think the Pens should try to trade him, but not sure if there is a market for a guy who went to college."  He then went on to call John Wall a snob for playing one year at Kentucky.

9:44AM: If the Caps trade Semin, we need a volunteer to go through Caps' blog's archives where they call Semin the most talented player in the league.

9:07AM: Caps put Nick Backstrom on LTIR. Signals a possibly significant move. Maybe they make a play for Nash.

9:00AM: Rumors abound that the Pens might do nothing today, or at most, very minor deals around the margins.  That's fine.  So in the meantime, we have to take on Dejan Kovacevic's column this morning.  He writes about what the Pens can do to get Crosby a winger if/when Sid comes back.  He advocates moving Jordan Staal to Sid's wing and writes:
Let's start with this: The Evgeni Malkin-James Neal-Chris Kunitz line has to stay intact. Carve it in stone, and leave them alone. This kind of chemistry and productivity is rare and golden. It can't be discarded to satisfy the needs of another player, not even Crosby. 
We wrote about this diminishing of Sidney Crosby earlier this month, but it's worth restating a couple points.

First, with all due respect to Chris "Hands" Kunitz, the real magic of the Pens' top line is the chemistry between Malkin and Neal.  Kunitz is as solid of a winger as there is, and gets more out of his skill set than almost any player in the league.  But Geno was doing pretty damn well with Neal and Sullivan, and it's just as likely that the real catalyst to Geno's surge to the top of the scoring race was not Kunitz, but the continuing progression of his knee rehabilitation.

The real magic.
Second, this isn't about "satisfying the needs" of Crosby, a phrasing that makes it sound like Sid is a diva.  This is about getting the most out of your assets.  Crosby doesn't need to play with Kunitz to make Sid feel good -- Crosby needs to play with Kunitz because it makes the Pens a MUCH better team.  Guess who was on pace to score 65 goals with Kunitz on the wing last year?  Not Geno, but Sid.  Do you really think putting Sid with unfamiliar wingers after having played only 8 games in a year and a half is a great idea?

Third, the Pens are at their best -- their very best -- when Jordan Staal is their third line center.  It's what makes the Pens unique.  Moving Staal to Sid's wing and having Dustin Jeffrey, a healthy scratch recently, or Joe Vitale play third line center significantly weakens the Pens for about 15 minutes of every game.  If we pick up a legit third line center today -- i.e., someone not named Cal O'Reilly -- then MAYBE you move Staal.

Fourth, Kovacevic cites Staal's 40-goal pace as a reason to play him with Sid.  But isn't that just as much of a reason to not play him with Sid to keep the team balanced?  Can we really expect more out of Staal than a 40-goal pace?  That's asking a lot.  Certainly Staal would be better for Sid's numbers than TK or Sullivan, but that's not what we're advocating.  We want Sid with Hands.  And Malkin will be just fine without Kunitz -- the guy won the Conn Smythe trophy with Fedentenko and Talbot on his wings.

Carving lines in stone may have worked in the era when coaches called refs fat and defensemen could barely skate.  But it's 2012, and coaching and in-game adjustments have never been better.  This Pens team is built on a singular premise that makes the team special -- three dominant centers who, no matter who they are playing with, give you three great lines.  That's the chemistry that won the Cup in 2009, and it's the chemistry that can win the Cup in 2012.  As long as, you know, this doesn't happen...

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