The First Domino?
The Pittsburgh Penguins announced on Friday that they acquired Arizona Coyotes forward Rob Klinkhammer and a conditional 2016 fifth-round draft pick in exchange for defenseman Philip Samuelsson. With a depleted forward line-up, the Penguins pulled the trigger on a deal that could prove beneficial down the road once the Penguins forwards are healthy again.
Klinkhammer, who has 36 points (19G, 17A) in 129 NHL games, will fill an immediate role with the Penguins. The 6-foot-3 left winger may not be a top-six forward, but will get more playing time now with the Penguins as wingers like Pascal Dupuis, Chris Kunitz, Patric Hornqvist, and Beau Bennett all on the shelf. What Klinkhammer brings to the team is a possession game that will help the Penguins in the offensive zone and create scoring chances to a team with a lack of scoring wingers at the moment. [By the way, if you like this post you can subscribe to our free newsletter to receive others like it]
When the Penguins are healthy, Klinkhammer will eventually slide down to a third or fourth line role, and even at that point, the Penguins will be in good shape, one would presume.
One has to ask, however, is the Klinkhammer deal the first of many to come for the Pittsburgh Penguins?
Who Could Be On Their Way?
The Penguins lack of depth has been exploited as of late, suffering a 3-0 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday and squeaking by with a 1-0 victory on Tuesday night against the New Jersey Devils. With that being said, the Penguins are not a team that is struggling to register wins on the season. The Penguins are fifth in the league with 17 wins and have amassed 36 points, only trailing division foe New York Islanders by two points.
The addition of Klinkhammer certainly adds depth, but not necessarily a scoring touch. Names like Drew Stafford and Chris Stewart of the Buffalo Sabres have been tossed around, along with Winnipeg Jets wingers Evander Kane and Blake Wheeler. I wrote an article a week back suggesting how the Edmonton Oilers have some viable options to help the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Do the Penguins pull the trigger on these potential trade opportunities? Does Jim Rutherford feel pressure to pleasure a Penguins fanbase by attempting to make blockbuster deals like Ray Shero? Or do the Penguins plow through the recent string of injuries and wait for a healthy team to resurface rather than plug new bodies into the line-up?
One would have to assume that the Pittsburgh Penguins have learned from their past trades that an immediate band-aid can not solve a long-term problem. Recent trades for players like Alexei Ponikarovsky, Alexei Kovalev, Brenden Morrow, Jarome Iginla, and Lee Stempniak have not proved beneficial to the team in terms of long, fruitful playoff runs. The talk of trades is a subject that gets the fans buzzing. But to make a trade for the sake of trades may not be the smartest strategy if one looks to win Lord Stanley’s Cup.
Final thought on the Klinkhammer deal is this: Rob Klinkhammer fills an immediate role. He is a forward that can move up and down the line-up, similar to Blake Comeau. When the Penguins are healthy and have Kunitz, Hornqvist, and Bennett back in the line-up, Klinkhammer will provide depth to this forward core without sacrificing much of the future.