Things have not been going according to plan for the Pittsburgh Penguins lately. Their most recent string of losses has knocked them out of the playoff picture, and with some pretty tough games coming up, they may be looking at sitting out the postseason this year. The NHL trade deadline is less than 10 days away, and the Penguins could definitely use some help in a few areas. Where should they focus their attention, and who should they go after?
Penguins starting goaltender Tristan Jarry returned to the ice on Monday, Feb. 20 in the 4-2 loss to the New York Islanders after missing 16 out of the last 18 games due to an upper-body injury. Backup goalie Casey DeSmith has been in the net since the beginning of January and has lacked consistency to say the least. If Pittsburgh does still have playoff aspirations, should they be looking at acquiring a better backup for Jarry?
San Jose Sharks goalie James Reimer may be an option for the Penguins. This season Reimer is at a .898 save percentage (SV%) and a 3.20 goals-against average. Even though his numbers are not great, Reimer would definitely add some much-needed depth to the goaltending position. This is his 14th season in the league; during his career he has played over half of his team’s schedule four times.
Ottawa Senators goalie Cam Talbot could also be a possibility for Pittsburgh. Talbot has played in 28 games this season and has a .905 SV%. He is in the final year of his contract and will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season. Jarry has not had the best luck this season when it comes to injuries, and the Penguins should seriously be considering moves to shore up their goaltending depth.
By now, it is no secret that the Penguins desperately need a bottom six. The top two lines have been carrying the team for most of the season, but without depth scoring they simply will not be successful. Anaheim Ducks forward Adam Henrique could be exactly what Pittsburgh is looking for right now. Henrique has played in 57 games this season and scored 19 goals with 14 assists. He could easily be placed on Pittsburgh’s third line at the center position, a spot currently held by Jeff Carter who should no longer be on the ice.
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Max Domi of the Chicago Blackhawks might also be a possible option for the Penguins. He has played in 57 games this season and scored 17 goals and had 29 assists. Domi is a very versatile player and will easily fit in with any team. He would also be an asset to Pittsburgh’s power play, which has been struggling lately.
Time For a Change
After being embarrassed on their home ice in the loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Feb. 23 there is no doubt that now is the time for a change in Pittsburgh. General manager Ron Hextall made the right decision by handing out long-term contracts to forward Evgeni Malkin and defenseman Kris Letang during the offseason. However, the multi-year contracts he gave out to Carter, forward Kasperi Kapanen, and defenseman Jan Rutta have proven to be a bust and are severely hindering the team’s ability to improve.
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It may finally be time for the Penguins to accept the reality that winning with their current roster just isn’t possible. They need to make a big move at the trade deadline and start thinking about next season. At this point, it is time to come to terms with the fact that their playoff streak will more than likely end this year and decide how to best set themselves up for the future.