Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Let's Talk Trades: LIVE BLOG

By GTOG Staff

Post will be updated throughout the day...

If you haven't listened already, make sure to check out our trade deadline podcast with Mike Colligan of The Hockey Writers.  Listen below, or click here for more listening options.

4:25pm: Late word that the Pens got Lee Stempniak from Calgary for a 3rd round pick.  Compared to prices paid for some other (better) players, it seems high, but .... this is more like it.  The Pens need bodies, and Stempniak is a capable one who can't be worse than some of the bodies the Pens have been trotting out recently.  Our disappointment is tempered, somewhat.  The Pens have upgraded two forwards.  That's progress.

3:55pm: Other than Goc, it doesn't appear the Pens have made any moves today.  We'll wait for some of the details to come out, but the initial reaction is that this is pretty deflating.  It's one thing to basically stand pat; it's another to fail to address glaring needs to improve a transparently flawed roster.  Goc will be a nice pickup.  He's probably better than Sutter, and Sutter on the fourth line is probably where Sutter belongs. But still.

Were the Pens too hyper-focused on Kesler?  Did Shero get cold feet when it came time to pay what appear to have been affordable prices for a lot of players?  Does Shero not think the Pens are contenders?  Did they just screw up?  Does Shero feel burned by last year? Or does Shero know something we don't about his team?  Are the Pens better off being underdogs?

Some tough questions to answer.

3:40pm: The Caps get Jaroslav Halak from Buffalo.  Washington: where goalies go to have their confidence destroyed. Still nothing from the Pens, and it's looking more and more like that means they did nothing else.

3:20pm: Vanek to Montreal, Moulson to Minnesota.  Two more down.  Chris Stewart, anyone?

3:18pm: No Cammalleri either.  The world awaits.

3:08pm: No Kesler, apparently. As we said on our podcast, the incentive for the Canucks to move him now was unclear.  They can still make the playoffs, and then just trade him in the offseason.

3:00pm: Nothing involving the Pens has been announced, but something will come out soon, we think.  Shero can't come away from this deadline with just Goc.

2:30pm Rob Rossi just retweeted a fake Pierre LeBrun tweet claiming the Pens acquired Thomas Vanek for Sutter and a 1st round pick. Then he apologized by explaining he knew that trade makes no sense anyway.
In other words, Rob Rossi gives Rob Rossi credit for debunking a fake Twitter account after being fooled by the fake Twitter account.

1:55pm: The Pens get Marcel Goc (GAWTCH in Pittsburgh) from Florida for a 5th and 3rd round pick. He makes nothing.  He's ok -- he has 23 points in 62 games which is pretty ehh but he has good "advanced stats" which is at least something.  He's also a center, which means that Brandon Sutter could be on the move as part of a deal for Kesler.

12:46pm: A lot of fans and media are recoiling at the idea of the Pens including Derrick Pouliot in any trade.  Maybe Pouliot will turn out to be all he's hyped to be, but he's still in the Western Hockey League.  That's not even the AHL yet.  The Pens shouldn't abandon him irresponsibly, but he should absolutely be in play for the right deal.  Crosby and Malkin are in their prime.  Pouliot is in the WHL, which suggests he's at least a year away.  There are only so many years you can wait. Once a guy's reputation hits its highest point -- like Pouliot's now -- that's often the best time to trade him.  Also worth noting -- Pouliot is older than Olli Maatta.

12:31pm: The Pens are not getting Ales Hemsky.  He was traded to Ottawa for a 3rd and 5th round pick, plus the Oilers retain half his salary.  Is this a big deal for the Pens?  In a vacuum, no.  Hemsky has 9 goals in 55 games this season.  But as more and more forwards are taken out of play -- for pretty low prices, too -- the risk remains that while the Pens may get the one guy they want (Kesler), they won't get the three guys they need.

11:43am: Marty St. Louis goes to the Rangers for Ryan Callahan and a bunch of picks.  This makes sense for the Rangers, not just because MSL is a good player, but because now they aren't paying Callahan $6M/year.   Trading him was like a psycho turning in his weapon to a Gun Buyback program -- get this away from me before I do something stupid.

What doesn't make sense is how big of a baby MSL has been since his initial Olympic snub.  If his desire to get out of Tampa is due to his beef with Yzerman ... well, that's not really "captain" material.

11:25am:  It seems like forever ago (it was yesterday), but the award for Most Sensible Trade So Far goes to ... gasp ... George McPhee and the Washington Capitals.  They sent a 4th round pick to Anaheim for Dustin Penner, who has 32 points with a meager $2M cap hit.  Would something like this have made sense for the Pens?  Consider the Pens last six 4th round picks -- Ryan Segulla, Matia Marcantuoni, Sean McGuire, Tom Kunhackl, Nick Peterson, Nathan Moon.  Um, yeah.

11:13am: The salary cap seems really confusing for certain people who actually cover the Penguins for a living. We can understand that it causes some confusion, but that's alarming. The natural outgrowth of the confusion is that people who profess to understand the cap tend to think they are geniuses.
Listen, no offense to Jason Botterill, but considering he just needs to put Letang and Martin on LTIR to free up $8.5M in cap space (and then freely play Letang and/or Martin in the post-season with no cap implications), we could be masters, too.

10:40am: CBJ is looking for "immediate help on defense."  Dream scenario: Orpik for Gaborik, straight up. Throw Letang on LTIR, and the money works.  Sell CBJ on the intangibles and all that stuff. WE CAN DREAM, CAN'T WE?

10:26am: Why not Marian Gaborik?  He's a pending UFA with a $7.5M cap hit, so the Pens would have to make some room for him, but as far as rentals go, he could come cheap and could have as big of an upside as anyone.  If he's available, as rumored, Shero should be working the phones.  Gaborik is brittle and his production is declining, but maybe he finds some juvenation with Sid.

10:20am: No team should be more thankful for the No-Trade Clause than the Pens, who seemingly make the short list of preferred destinations for EVERY SINGLE PLAYER who has a no-trade clause.  This is why all the peripheral things the Pens do well -- PR, facilities, relationships with players, likable owner, likable coach/GM -- matter.  Crosby and Malkin help, too.

9:55am: There's a lot of talk that Derrick Pouliot is the key to any move the Pens make for Kesler (or perhaps another off-the-radar forward).  It is said that the Pens' organization is in love with Pouliot.  Two quick thoughts:

1. Of course they're going to say they're in love with Pouliot.  You pump up your own prospects as best you can -- that's the name of the game.  At one point the Pens even professed their love for Simon Despres.  Do the Pens actually love Pouliot?  We don't know, but actions speak louder than words.

2. One reason Shero may feel pressure to include Pouliot in a deal even if he loves Pouliot: The Jordan Staal trade.  Pouliot was picked with the draft pick that the Pens acquired from the Canes, along with Brian Dumoulin and Brandon Sutter.  As good as a draft pick as Pouliot may turn out to be, as of today, all Shero has to show for the trade at the NHL level during 2 years of Crosby's and Malkin's prime is one and a half years of Brandon Sutter.  And last year, the Pens would have still had Staal under contract had they not traded him.

You can go down the chain of causation and say that the draft pick the Pens got enabled them to trade last year's first round pick for Iginla.  Perhaps it's true, and either way, there's no reason to go back and debate the trade, other than to look at how it may impact the Pens' mindset.  Crosby and Malkin aren't going to be in their mid-20's forever.  Not so long from now, they will be approaching 30 and have a ton of mileage.  Kind of like Ryan Kesler.

9:20am: Pens better hope Kesler and the Canucks are looking East. Brandon Sutter's package A package headlined by Brandon Sutter isn't topping the offers of many Western Conference teams.
Poor Sutter, by the way. Imagine the agony of today's cross-country trip to San Jose.

8:45am: The Pens win over the Predators last night was pretty standard -- the top 6 was good, the bottom 6 was not, Bob Bortuzzo got someone really mad at him, and the game was a few posts away from being 6-5.  This formula isn't changing anytime soon unless, of course, it does.

As we inch toward tonight's trade deadline, the pressure is on Ray Shero to plug a bunch of holes -- numerous forwards, including one capable of playing with Crosby; defensive depth; backup goalie; more forwards; more forwards; and more forwards.  Does he make multiple moves, one big move (smells like Mike Cammalleri), or nothing at all?  What we'd like to see at minimum: bring in three forwards who are at least better than the worst three forwards currently on the roster.  Seems like a big ask, but it's a big hole.


  1. I'm not disappointed at all: this was exactly what Shero needed to do. This team, above all, needed to keep its 1st and 2nd rounders. A third-rounder or later is a craps shoot that only occasionally yields - and likely wouldn't yield at all until past this core's prime. But the Pens just can't give up any more top-end picks or the depth problem will continue indefinitely. I would have been disappointed with any trade that gave up a first-rounder - pretty much regardless of the return.

    Second, it needed depth. I suppose we'll see whether there is any chemistry, but you have something resembling a third line now, especially with the (maybe unwarranted) expectation that Beau may actually play hockey at some point. And beyond that, you have options: Stempniak/Beau/Gibbons with Sid - or on the 3rd line? Goc and Sutter both centering a line - or one playing wing? See what sticks. And while Tanner Glass has no business on a 3rd line, he is a good 4th liner. He genuinely brings something to this team that it needs - he's been a PK beast and a physical presence. And if Stempniak or Beau work, then maybe Gibbons can play on the 4th line with Glass and Vitale. You've have some size, some speed, and a guy who might be able to occasionally put the puck in the net. Glass and Vitale can be the forechecking presence that Gibbons is too small to bring. That leaves Goc, Sutter, Stempniak, and BB to fill out the 3rd line. And that actually sounds like a 3rd line.

    On a related note, I also like that there's some options for next year thrown in there. If Goc fits, maybe trade Sutter's rights. If Jussi is too expensive, then maybe Stempniak is a nice fit. These are the same sorts of players we'll need next year. The Pens only have 7 forward signed past the playoffs - 87, 71, 14, 9, 18, 19, 27.

    This team is clearly better today than it was yesterday, in the ways it needed, having only sacrificed a couple of mid-ish picks. I don't know that this particular team is good enough to make it out of the East, particularly without Letang, but I do think Shero's set it up to have a chance, without losing high picks or prospects.

    Best of all, we should, Mario willing, never have to see Taylor Pyatt or Chuck Kobasew in a Pens uniform again. For that, we should all be thankful.

  2. I agree with everything Brandy said. Also, I think that the moves that were made yesterday make the Pens a better team than just swapping Sutter (et. al.) for Kesler.

    For once, the team actually has options on all 4 lines and Sutter as a 4C would be above average vs. him at 3C at mediocre.

    As for Gibbons, I can't see him playing a role other than Sid's RW. I think putting him on a 4th line would glaringly expose his physical limitations. He is just good enough to not completely bring down Sid's line but also not good enough to play anywhere else. If and when Bennett is back, I can't see a roster spot for him.

    Ideally I would go with:

    I would consider Jokinen, Bennett, Sutter, Glass, and Stempniak as the main movable pieces around the line-up. But for the first time in a while, the bottom 6 won't be a dumpster least on paper.