Friday, February 28, 2014

Today in Bad Ideas: The Penguins Trading for Ryan Kesler

By Artistry (follow me on Twitter)

Friends of GTOG - Mike Colligan and the guys at Pensblog - broke the news earlier this week that the Penguins are hot and heavy in pursuit of Vancouver Canucks center Ryan Kesler.  You can read their excellent work on Pittsburgh's desire to return to a dominant three center model here and here. Then, last night came this tweet:

Hey, wow, we're hearing that, too. We all must read the same blogs. In any event, this strikes us as a bad idea. Not that we don't like Ryan Kesler and think he brings a lot to the table. He's a true shut-down center, rugged, a perennial 20-goal scorer (he had 41 in 2010-11), and yes, pretty much exactly the kind of third-line center you want in a playoff series against Boston. We've seen the arguments for acquiring Kesler even at a steep cost. Here are the reasons Ray Shero needs to take a deep breath and take his finger off the trigger:

1) Kesler does little to address the Pens' weaknesses.

If you watched last night's episode of "My God, that Bottom 6," you are well aware of what we've been talking about since October.  A team that regularly dresses Tanner Glass, Taylor Pyatt, Joe Vitale, Craig Adams, and Chuck Kobasew is not beating Boston, let alone winning the Stanley Cup.  Consider: Carl Soderberg, a bottom 6'er in Boston who plays 14 minutes a night, has the same number of points this season as Glass, Adams, Pyatt, Kobasew, Megna, and Ebbett COMBINED.

And you'll notice that our catalog of the Pens' most undesirable pieces does not even include Brandon Sutter, who himself is on pace for fewer points in 82 games than Soderberg already has in 50 games.  If you read this blog, you know we're often disappointed with Sutter's play, but he's the one piece of the Bottom 6 that actually brings something to the table - including good penalty killing and the occasional big goal. And HE'S the guy we're going to replace? Not that we wouldn't advocate the right Sutter trade, but the big weaknesses for the Penguins right now are the third-line wings and the hole on Crosby's wing left by Pascal Dupuis, in that order.  One of those spots may be filled by Beau Bennett and his glass wrists, maybe not. But one thing is certain: the Penguins need more capable bodies up front. It wouldn't take much to buy a significant 3rd line upgrade like Sean Bergenhein.  What the Pens don't need is to take a perfectly serviceable if mostly uninspiring player like Sutter and replace him with a similar - though, admittedly, far more impressive - 29-year-old model with a ton of wear and tear who might even be seriously injured.

The new Richard Park with a dog picture
Which leads to the second point...

2) Ryan, have you met Taylor and Tanner?

If word out of Vancouver's media is to be believed, the Canucks have struggled to pair Kesler with suitable linemates. It seems they're not getting enough out of him while he plays with guys like Chris Higgins.  Um...

May have been relevant NHL players in 1975 when you didn't need to have talent.
Side tangent: can anyone explain why Ray Shero signed Taylor Pyatt?  Anyone?  He counts 1.55M against the cap and brings absolutely nothing to the table.  Is there a quota limiting how many tiny horrible players you can have such that Shero was forced to diversify into having a huge terrible player?  Has Shero ever made a more inexplicable move?

3) He's probably cost prohibitive

We don't take the rumors of a Sutter, Pouliot and #1 pick package terribly seriously, though we don't doubt that might be the Canucks' opening bid. If the Pens believe in Pouliot as much as we think they do, it's hard to believe Shero parts with all these assets in one deal.  It doesn't leave much in the way of assets to upgrade the aforementioned areas that desperately need it.  What could the Pens get for their number one pick alone? What about for Simon Despres alone?  A mid-round pick alone?  The bet here is that for those three assets, you can bring in three players better than Pyatt, Kobasew and Adams.


  1. Still, it's a significant upgrade to the bottom six, increases their chances to win this year and is a long-term addition too. A huge upgrade on Sutter, but you are right that the wings are still a disaster. Assuming Letang and Vokoun are on LTIR for the season, and Sutter gets traded and maybe Pyatt waived, it could work under the cap this year. Here's a look at maybe next year:

    1. All good points, and the roster for next year looks like a team with some actual depth.

      If all the Pens did was replace Sutter with Kesler, that would definitely be an upgrade. (No one thinks Sutter is worse than I do). But I just don't know if it does enough. Like Artistry wrote, I'd rather take the assets required to get a guy like Kesler and move them separately in smaller deals to upgrade multiple positions.

      Kesler with Glass and Pyatt on his wings would not be the Kesler of the 2011 playoffs.