With March 5th right around the corner, the countdown has begun on the NHL trade deadline. The rumor mill has been swirling with speculations of possible destinations for the league’s prize rentals. Fans of any NHL team strap on their GM pants to weigh in on the player(s) they think would be the best fit for their team. For some players, it may be a welcomed trade. For others, it may be a rough goodbye due to the nature of the business.
So where is Ray Shero at during all of this?
My guess is that he is currently on the phone; smoking a cigar while he beckons to the ice crew girls to bring him his wallet…”it’s time to make it rain ladies.“
First off, I would like say on record that I haven’t always agreed with Shero’s moves. Personally, I feel he has got lucky on some key components on our current team. But, I do have respect for a GM that wants to win. He is not shy about “wheeling and dealing” at the deadline and spending up to the cap ceiling to put together (in his mind) a Stanley Cup team.
So this leads me to my actual list of players that I feel would help the Pens in a playoff series. Keep in mind there are only a handful of teams that are usually willing to trade at the deadline; typically these "selling" teams are looking to rebuild and are most likely out of the playoff hunt.
Besides having a mug that was created for playoff hockey, this guy has everything the Pens need to solidify their 3rd line. Contract talks have come to a halt between the Preds and him, so I think he could be lured away if the Pens tried. He plays a physical game in front of the net and comes from a very disciplined Nashville team that relies heavily on defense. Although he isn’t known for his scoring touch, he can contribute and I could see him being a player that teams in the East would learn to absolutely hate during a 7 game series.
This is someone the Pens need. The Pens have plenty of skill, they need players that can go to the tough areas and cause fits for opposing teams d-men. The Bruins openly said that their game plan against the Pens was to get the stars off their game - they need someone that can counter that style of play. Legwand would need to waive his "no-trade" clause.
2) Jiri Hudler – Age 30 Calgary
This trade would take some work on Shero’s part. I don’t believe the Flames are shopping him, but for the right price I think they may negotiate. We have seen over the past few seasons that Chris Kunitz has put up great numbers with the likes of Crosby and Malkin. I have said in the past that if the Pens could clone Kunitz and have one of him on each line, they would have the top two scoring lines in the league.
Jiri Hudler is the closest winger out there that compares to Kunitz. He is a smart, physical winger that has the ability to put the puck in the net. Having been part of the Red Wings organization, he knows what it takes to win. He is signed until 2016-2017 season at 4 million a year, which is a reasonable price. Shero has made it known that he would prefer to not go after rentals, and this would be a signing that would lock up the top 6 for the next few seasons.
With all of the talks surrounding Ryan Kesler, maybe it would be worth inquiring about Burrows. Here is another player that can bring a physical element to a game and has shown in the past that he can rack up the goals when surrounded by talent. His cap hit 4.5 million a year and he is signed until 2017-2018 season.
Currently, Burrows is tearing up the score sheet with 5 assists (count em’) in 30 games. This is a player that is only 2 years removed from a 28 goal, 52 point season. That tells me he is either playing extremely hurt or that he is not being utilized correctly. Being that Tortorella is at the helm, I would be inclined to think the latter. If there is one player on their roster that is a buy low candidate, this would be the guy. The Pens would be wise to test the waters with Burrows before they throw half of their farm system and future picks at Kesler.
4) Jaromir Jagr – Age 42 (UFA) New Jersey
Some of “yinzer” nation may hate me for this pick, but I would absolutely love to see Jagr back in a Pens Jersey. He is an absolute shoe in for the Hall of Fame and I couldn’t see him going out any better than coming back to where it all started. His price tag is low. He brings more experience than most NHL teams have combined and he loves to compete. With 50 pts in 60 games this year, I’d say he still has some fire to raise that cup again.
The catch 22 with this acquisition though is whether or not Jagr wants to come back to Pittsburgh. Jagr is going to do what he wants, he always has. Many Pittsburgh fans boo Jagr when he plays against the Pens, but without him leaving – you would be wearing another team’s jersey if you wanted to cheer for Malkin or Crosby.
Mason Raymond – Age 28 (UFA) Toronto
Speedy winger that I feel the Pens should have looked at last year when he was a UFA. He could bring some speed and scoring to the top 6 and could probably be signed to a reasonable extension.
Cal Clutterbuck – Age 26 NY Islanders
Depth for our 3rd/4th lines. Current cap hit is 2.75 million and is signed until 2017/2018 season. He plays a gritty style of game and could add some speed/abrasiveness/youth to the lower lines.
With 72 hours left until the deadline, decisions will be made soon. Regardless of who Shero tries to lure into a Pens uniform, the coaches will have to understand the assets they receive and utilize them correctly. If I were Shero’s place, these are the players that I feel will lead to increased cohesiveness and chemistry between the lines, without breaking the bank. Until that time though, I will continue to make my trades via NHL 2014 on Xbox and leave the real dollars to ol’ Ray.
- Ian Allen Poe is a contributor to the www.cityofchampyinz.com website and will specialize in Hockey, with a vast experience in the Western Conference.