In Part I of our Penguins trade deadline gameplan, we took a look at the market General Manager Ray Shero and his staff are currently navigating.
Ten days remain until the Feb. 28 trade deadline and the Penguins have relied on just minor-league callups to fill the gaping holes in the lineup left by recent injuries and suspensions.
A few playoff contenders recognized the weak trade market on the horizon and have already started to make their moves:
- Feb 15: Boston acquires F Chris Kelly from Ottawa for a 2nd-Round Pick (2011)
- Feb 14: Philadelphia acquires F Kris Versteeg from Toronto for 1st-Round Pick (2011) and 3rd-Round Pick (2011)
- Feb 10: Nashville acquires F Mike Fisher from Ottawa for 1st-Round Pick (2011) and Conditional 2nd/3rd-Round Pick (2012)
Kelly, Versteeg, and Fisher all have at least one year remaining on their contracts and wouldn’t be termed deadline rentals, but at first glance the cost to acquire this type of offensive help seems high.
Part of the reason could be the current “seller’s market” explained in Part I, and a GM-willingness to unload high draft picks might also confirm early suspicions of a weak 2011 draft class.
THW’s prospect guru Chris Ralph says ‘not so fast’ to that suggestion in his early 2011 draft preview, but the Penguins will be without Evgeni Malkin for the rest of the season and Sidney Crosby’s return is still an unknown. It’s tough to envision Shero gutting the team’s draft or prospect pool in an effort to salvage what’s already been a wild and unpredictable season. [Keep in mind, Pittsburgh is already without a 3rd and 4th round pick in next year’s draft]
If the Penguins turn to cheaper options to fill their scoring holes, two names seem like logical fits for the up-tempo, hard-working system coach Dan Bylsma stresses.
Curtis Glencross – LW – Calgary (6-1, 195 lbs, $1.2 million)
Depending on your perspective, February could be the absolute worst or the absolute best time for the Penguins to acquire Glencross. The 28-year-old undrafted winger is on a tear as of late scoring nine goals in his last 12 games and sits on pace for a career-high 26 this year.
Calgary’s OMG line made up of Olli Jokinen, David Moss and Glencross has led the team to 12-2-5 run that has them surprisingly sitting in a five-way tie for fourth place in the airtight Western Conference.
The team’s resurgence has the fanbase reinvigorated after prematurely chalking up 2010-11 as a loss, but the Flames are not a Stanley Cup contender in their current form.
Flames GM Darryl Sutter was fired resigned on Dec. 28 and the reigns were passed to former Tampa GM Jay Feaster. A lot of work will need to be done to fix an aging Flames roster with limited cap space and without much in the pipeline to get excited about.
In an attempt to plug holes in a 2011 draft with just one pick in the top 100, Feaster will have to listen to offers for the UFA Glencross especially in light of his recent hot streak.
Rita Mingo at Fanhouse said in this piece Wednesday that Glencross has come a long way from being an early-season resident in coach Brent Sutter’s doghouse:
“In the last two or three years, I’ve wanted to hit 20 goals and 20 assists for 40 points,” [Glencross] said. “That’s kind of been my goal. I’ve had injury problems and missed 20 games every year and this is the first year — knock on wood — that I haven’t missed too many games. Right now, I’m going to set myself a new goal and push for 25 or 30.”
The 28-year-old has ridden the elevator this season, inhabiting the coach’s doghouse early on with a lack of consistency his greatest detriment.
“That’s something he’s been working on and it’s gotten a lot better,” said head coach Brent Sutter. “Glennie’s always been a great penalty killer, but now he’s getting some power play time, too; being rewarded for his effort and how well he’s been playing.”
In many ways, Glencross is the prototypical forward under Bylsma’s system. A hard-working, physical forward with sneaky speed and the ability to score goals in bunches.
His 19 goals would rank second on the Penguins this year and be an upgrade over penalty-killing wingers Max Talbot and Pascal Dupuis who currently occupy scoring line roles.
Talbot has just one goal (of the empty-net variety) to his name since November and seems to be gripping his stick tight with a contract that expires this summer. The Penguins were hoping Dupuis would take on some of the scoring load abandoned in Crosby and Malkin’s absence, but he hasn’t found the back of the net in ten straight contests.
As we mentioned above, recent trades are tough to use as a measuring stick when sizing up Glencross’ price because the Flames forward would be a pure rental for the Penguins; but it’s hard to imagine he would cost more than the 2nd round pick Boston coughed up in their deal for Kelly.
Clarke MacArthur – LW – Toronto (5-11, 191 lbs, $1.1 million)
Judging the value and availability of Clarke MacArthur is a little more tricky.
The 25-year-old Leafs winger came to Toronto via free agency this summer when his former team in Atlanta declined a one-year, $2.4m arbitration award in the offseason.
Perhaps playing with a chip on his shoulder, MacArthur has proved himself worth every penny of the arbitrator’s decision and sits on pace for 64 points this season. As the team’s leading scorer he might be set to earn at least $2.4m annually when he becomes a restricted free agent on July 1.
The Maple Leafs need all the help they can get on offense moving forward, but is General Manager Brian Burke willing to pay big money to a young player who never scored more than 35 points before this season?
The first step the Leafs GM will have to take is reaching out MacArthur’s agent Don Meehan to get a feel for his camp’s offseason expectations.
Burke was in a similar position two years ago when checking line center and soon-to-be free agent Dominic Moore exploded for 41 points in 63 games with the Leafs.
Moore’s agent saw a huge opportunity to cash in on the free agent market and Burke decided it made more sense to trade him at the deadline (to Buffalo for a second-round pick) than overpaying or losing him for nothing in the summer. Moore scored just one goal for the Sabres after the deal and interest in him waned until Florida signed him for just $1.1m last year.
With MacArthur’s lack of a track record, Burke might consider a similar deal next week for the winger.
Burke and the Leafs have also shown the tendency to trade over and over with the same teams. He recently acquired Anaheim’s Joffrey Lupul from the Ducks after pulling a big deal to get goaltender JS Giguere from the same team last year (Ducks GM Bob Murray was Burke’s old sidekick in Anaheim). Burke is also in the final stages of shipping Tomas Kaberle to Boston, the same team responsible for the infamous Phil Kessel trade.
Ray Shero and Burke have also shown the ability to make moves after the Penguins acquired Alexei Ponikarovsky at last year’s deadline in exchange for Martin Skoula and Luca Caputi.
MacArthur has 16 points on the powerplay this season and his abilities with the man advantage would be a welcome addition to a team like the Penguins looking to add a little firepower. His 5-11 frame leaves a bit to be desired, but MacArthur’s speed and vision could make him a dangerous player alongside Sidney Crosby or Jordan Staal. If he would come to Pittsburgh and produce, Shero might have the opportunity to convince him to take a discount to stay with the Penguins with this summer.
The biggest challenge for Shero at this year’s trade deadline is the fact he’s almost going in blind. He hasn’t seen his team play at full-strength the entire year and likely won’t have that luxury prior to Feb. 28.
They reeled off an impressive 12-game winning streak without Jordan Staal in November and early December, but what kind of a hole does Malkin’s long-term injury leave in this lineup?
We’ll be updating this article over the next two days with any and all names suggested by our readers. Already requested and coming up next: Jarome Iginla, Ales Hemsky, Alexei Kovalev, Jason Arnott, Chris Higgins, Devin Setoguchi, Stephen Weiss.
~ Jarome Iginla – Calgary Flames (via @AV8RCOOK): The local interest in Jarome Iginla stems from the chemistry he exhibited with Sidney Crosby in last year’s Vancouver Olympics, but the chances of him coming to Pittsburgh anytime soon are zero. The 33-year-old has a no-movement clause and two years remaining on his contract at $7m a year. His numbers have declined every season since 2007-08 and the Penguins can’t afford to take on another big money contract.
~ Ales Hemsky – Edmonton Oilers (via email from Brian): A few years ago, I think Hemsky was on track to become an elite NHL forward. Injuries have derailed that progress and weak teams in Edmonton as of late have forced him to become a very individualistic player. I always have concerns when players used to doing everything themselves all of a sudden end up on the ice with talented linemates. Ilya Kovalchuk is a good example. You would think if he could hit 90+ points in Atlanta with no help, he should be good for 110 in New Jersey with better teammates. That obviously hasn’t been true. Hemsky would be a dynamic addition for the Penguins, but the risks and high price to acquire him would make me pass.
~ Alexei Kovalev – Ottawa Senators (via @hoodrx): Reader hoodrx said he keeps hearing Kovalev mentioned as a player the Penguins might acquire but doesn’t see him as a Bylsma-type player. I would agree. We discussed Kovalev briefly in Part I, but the buzz around the 37-year-old sniper will remain until he is dealt or the 3pm deadline on Feb. 28 arrives. Kovalev’s skillset doesn’t fit the Bylsma mold, but at how low a price do you add a player with even the smallest chance of upside? I could be wrong, but I’m not even sure I would add Kovalev and his pro-rated salary of $5m for free.
~ Jason Arnott – New Jersey Devils (via email from Sam): Arnott is reaching the end of his road and has spoken publicly about his hunger for another Stanley Cup. The Devils are in the midst of a crazy 12-1-2 run that shockingly has them within sight of the 8th spot in the Eastern Conference, but they would still need a miracle to reach the postseason. Arnott’s skills have noticeably declined in recent years, but his experience would be well-suited for a second or third line center role on most teams. As long as Crosby returns, I’m not sure Pittsburgh is one of those teams. Jordan Staal will be perfect in a second line center spot and Mark Letestu is nearing a return from knee surgery to his third line role. If Shero could acquire Arnott on the cheap I think he would definitely consider it, but I’m not sure how likely that is. Other teams in the NHL, such as the Washington Capitals, are far more desperate for a second-line center than the Penguins and will probably outbid anything Shero is willing part with.
~ Chris Higgins – Florida Panthers (via email from Sarah): 2007-08 was Higgins’ only healthy season when he scored 52 points with the Canadiens. He hasn’t been able to duplicate those numbers since, but still possesses great speed and the ability to play anywhere in the lineup (a quality the Penguins desire). The Panthers are in a full rebuild and willing to listen to offers for any and all players. Higgins can disappear for long stretches on the scoresheet and at times lacks the physicality to be effective on the forecheck like Bylsma wants, but at a low price he might be worth taking a flier on. Interest in him from other teams around the league should be fairly low.
~ Devin Setoguchi – San Jose Sharks (via email from Jared): Setoguchi’s hot and cold career has been mainly dictated by his linemates. When paired up with Dany Heatley, Joe Thornton, or Patrick Marleau in San Jose, Setoguchi is capable of extended scoring streaks. When moved down the depth chart he has the tendency to disappear. That logic would dictate he has the potential for big things alongside Sidney Crosby, but the Sharks will want a substantial return for the 24-year-old. If Shero can swing a move without giving up an important piece of the Penguins’ core it makes sense, but trading away someone like Alex Goligoski would be one step forward and two steps back.
~ Stephen Weiss – Florida Panthers (via @LittleArtie): Stephen Weiss would fetch a big return for Florida, but no one around the league can confirm that the high-upside centerman is actually on the trading block. Weiss is a little light on his skates, but with two seasons left on his contract at $3.1m he’d be a great addition to almost any team in the NHL. His production has been underwhelming as of late but that can actually be attributed to him quietly playing through injury. Not having Weiss at 100% might make teams like the Penguins nervous about acquiring him for the stretch run. The other problem for Pittsburgh is Weiss is a center, a position already occupied next season by Crosby, Malkin, Staal and Mark Letestu. If the Penguins make a move for a center it’ll probably be of the rental variety.
Have other players you want to suggest for the Penguins? Post a comment, send an email to MJColligan@gmail.com, or message me on Twitter @MikeColligan and I’ll add a paragraph to the bottom of the article for each name I receive.