Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford has publicly admitted that the free agent market is quite weak and any additions will be through trades.
One name that has been floating around is the Edmonton Oilers’ Jordan Eberle.
The 22nd overall pick during the 2008 NHL entry draft has failed to live up to expectations and now Edmonton has him signed to quite an expensive contract.
Before the 2013-2014 season, the Oilers signed Eberle to a six-year/$36 million dollar contract.
His production has been less than adequate, even if he is a slightly undersized wing.
With the Oilers (anticipated) selection of star center Connor McDavid, it’s been rumored they are looking to start building a more complete team now. But, in the NHL you can’t get something good without giving up something good.
Edmonton is in the market for both a (few) skilled defensemen and a starting goalie.
However, the sad truth of the matter is that the Penguins missed their opportunity to acquire Eberle’s services.
What Could Have Been
With the expected departure of Paul Martin and Christian Ehrhoff, the Penguins don’t have any skilled defensemen that have any trade value.
Star defender Kris Letang has trade value, but his long history of injuries and no movement clause makes trading him considerable harder. Even if Pittsburgh would be able to trade Letang, his value would be no where near it should be.
Rob Scuderi and Ben Lovejoy, well they’re overpaid veteran defenders. Neither of these have any trade value.
*Is there any chance the Penguins could send Lovejoy back to Anaheim and reacquire Simon Despres?*
The rest of the Penguins defensive corps are young, unproven and risky players. None of them would have enough value to return a player like Eberle.
So where am I going with all of this?
I’ve learned over the last week that the Penguins were close to acquiring Eberle multiple times.
Who was the centerpiece of these alleged deals? Paul Martin.
Authors Note (6/13/15) The Penguins and Oilers had discussed this trade multiple times during the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 seasons. It also was not an even swap, the Penguins had more assets involved, but Martin’s was name consistently included.
Edmonton wanted the veteran defender and were willing to pay to acquire one. However, with Pittsburgh’s consistent injury woes Martin was deemed too valuable to lose.
In the end, it was the Penguins who called off the deal and now they don’t even have the chance to acquire Eberle.
They don’t have any veteran defenders with any value and the Penguins can’t win another Stanley Cup without Marc-Andre Fleury in net.
The Penguins no longer hold the assets that Edmonton is looking for and it’s tragic looking back. Pittsburgh kept Martin because they believed they were going to compete for the Cup, but as we’ve seen, they have been playoff pretenders since 2008-2009.
Its great to think about a top line of Sidney Crosby flanked by Patric Hornqvist and Jordan Eberle, but don’t get your hopes up because he won’t be coming to Pittsburgh anytime soon.
Michael Pityk is an analyst who has written for numerous sites since beginning his professional career. He’s acted as a credentialed member of the media for the Philadelphia Phillies, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Pirates and the Pittsburgh Penguins. His work has been featured in Sports Illustrated, The Sports Journal, MSN, PensLabyrinth, Montreal Hockey Talk, ESPN Pittsburgh, The Hockey Writers, Todays SlapShot and The Bleacher Report. He formerly was the editor of Pens Labyrinth and an analyst for The Sports Journal. Michael presently acts as an NHL Analyst for The Hockey Writers