Trade Deadline Thoughts: Pens Acquire Goc, Stempniak

By: Meesh Shanmugam (@HockeyMeesh)

Credit: Kevin Hoffman/USA Today Sports

Credit: Kevin Hoffman/USA Today Sports

Seven Thoughts About Marcel Goc

Acquired from Florida for a 2015 3rd round pick and a 2014 5th round pick.

  • 1. Goc appears to be a prototypical 3rd line center, but he won’t necessarily fill that role in Pittsburgh.
  • 2. He brings with him strong faceoff (52.8%) and PK (2:17/gm) numbers this year and does have the ability to produce every so often (23 points in 62 games). He also led Florida in hits (103) and blocks (41) among forwards.
  • 3. Goc is a good add on depth alone. He can play wing if necessary and is certainly a step up over Pyatt, Conner, Kobasew, Vitale, and possibly even Craig Adams and Tanner Glass too. He is a legitimate 3rd line forward.
  • 4. Goc is worth the most for what he will bring in flexibility. He can play 4th line center. He can play 3rd line center if Bylsma wants to bump Malkin to Crosby’s wing and Sutter to 2nd line center at times. He can play 3rd line center if Bylsma wants to bump Sutter to Crosby’s wing at times. He can play wing with Sutter as well.
  • 5. He immediately gives the Pens a chance to bring more out of Brandon Sutter. Whether that’s by using Sutter with some of the talent on the top two lines or whether it’s by adding talent to Sutter’s line, Sutter should see an increase in his performance.
  • 6. As an upcoming free agent who will be 31 years old and currently makes $1.7 million, there is a solid chance he’s a rental. However, with several upcoming UFAs (Jokinen, Pyatt, Glass, Kobasew, Vitale, Conner) and a lack of forward depth already, Goc is also trying out for a chance to re-sign with a winner too. There will be a spot available for him if he wants it and does well in Pittsburgh.
  • 7. Overall, he immediately improves this team both offensively and defensively in lineup spots that were a black hole before.
Credit: (Derek Leung/Getty Images)

Credit: (Derek Leung/Getty Images)

Seven Thoughts About Lee Stempniak

Acquired from Calgary for a 2014 3rd round pick.

  • 1. Stempniak slots well as a 3rd line winger, though he will probably get a chance to fill more than that role in Pittsburgh with a look on the first line.
  • 2. He doesn’t shy away from physical contact despite only being 5’11 (2nd among Calgary forwards with 71 hits) and can play the PK as well (1:41/gm – 4th among Calgary forwards), but he generally isn’t as defensively responsible as most of the Penguins forwards. He does have a knack for taking advantage of PK chances though (5 shorthanded points).
  • 3. Stempniak is generally a streaky scorer. He has a solid shot and tends to fit into the 20-goal/season range, but he’s had a career low shooting percentage so far this season. Getting some looks from Crosby could fix that very quickly.
  • 4. If he goes cold though, he will completely disappear. For the time being, it may be a rotation of Stempniak and Gibbons alongside Crosby and Kunitz based on who is playing better.
  • 5. He has only been to the playoffs twice (both with Phoenix and both first round exits) and may be able to find another level with a talented team that should go deep into the playoffs.
  • 6. As an upcoming free agent who is 31 years old and currently makes $2.5 million, there is a solid chance Stempniak is also a rental. He doesn’t have the versatility that Goc has and I wouldn’t expect the Penguins to keep him around beyond this season unless something really clicks (especially with Sutter since Dupuis will return to Crosby’s wing next year).
  • 7. Overall, he improves the team’s depth at wing and provides more fire power immediately. However, there is still a chance he simply doesn’t pan out in the way several wings haven’t before. All it takes is a couple weeks of a hot streak at the right time for this move to be worth it though.
(Charles Rex Arbogast/AP Photo)

(Charles Rex Arbogast/AP Photo)

Seven Thoughts About the Roster Moving Forward

  • 1. Overall, the Penguins improved their team today by adding depth at forward. That was the biggest hole and it knocks players like Kobasew/Pyatt out of the lineup with a good upgrade. That makes this day a win despite expectations thanks to low risk additions.
  • 2. The forwards potentially look like this:

Kunitz-Crosby-Stempniak/Gibbons
Jokinen-Malkin-Neal
Goc-Sutter-Gibbons/Stempniak
Glass-Vitale-Adams
Hopefully Beau Bennett returns eventually and he could displace Gibbons or even Adams since Goc and Stempniak are both PK-capable. That gives the Penguins legitimate lines in the bottom 6.  As I said earlier, Goc and Sutter could move around frequently.

  • 3. I believe we have finally seen the end of Deryk Engelland, the forward. It is somewhat of a shame, because he certainly exceeded expectations there.
  • 4. The defense remains, but will look like this upon Martin’s return around playoff time:

Martin-Orpik
Niskanen-Maatta
Scuderi-Bortuzzo/Engelland/Despres
With Orpik playing much better next to Martin, the 2nd pair being wonderful, and the 3rd pairing able to handle 3rd pair minutes pretty easily, that is a solid group.

  • 5. Despite all of the backup goalie rumors, the Penguins will move on with Fleury/Zatkoff and Vokoun waiting in the wings. I imagine Vokoun will get a conditioning stint at some point and the Penguins will have three available goalies in the playoffs. Honestly though, I believe this team goes nowhere if Fleury can’t handle the playoffs again. I’m not sure any goalie really would have changed that, nor do the backups.
  • 6. On that note, I do not expect Vokoun to come back in 2013 playoff form. He has been through a lot and has missed a lot of time for an older guy. As is, he may have been playing above his normal abilities during his run. That is a big reason why I say Fleury or bust for this team.
  • 7. With the roster as it stands, I see this as a Conference Finals team still. Anything can happen in the playoffs, especially with the new format, and matchups will dictate everything of course. However, I still don’t think they have the forward depth necessary (and Orpik and Scuderi still frighten me as I write this).
(Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)

(Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)

Seven Random Thoughts

  • 1. In the end, it sounds like the Canucks wanted the world and more for Kesler and had no urgency to move him since they can wait until the offseason. You can’t blame Shero for Vancouver’s trading stance and face it, Kesler wasn’t a “necessary” add either.
  • 2. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Pens don’t get Kesler in the offseason either. The stars aligned right now because of cap space/trading pieces/Kesler’s preferences in a limited trade time frame. Despite that, it still didn’t work out. In the offseason, several more teams will enter the race with plenty of cap space, several strong prospects to offer, and plenty of time to “woo” Kesler to their city. They will have top center openings to offer as well. The Pens may chase again, but they will face much steeper competition than they had before.
  • 3. In 2014, the Penguins will be without their 2nd round pick (Murray trade), 3rd round pick (Stempniak trade), and 5th round pick (Goc trade). However, they picked up a 5th round pick from Anaheim (Lovejoy trade). What are the odds Orpik’s rights are good enough to recoup a pick this summer??
  • 4. The Pens have 7 sure forwards, 5 sure defensemen, and 2 sure goalies signed for next season. There will be a lot of work to do, but I love that roster flexibility in the offseason since the Penguins didn’t pick up anyone with additional years.
  • 5. Did anyone even legitimately suggest Stempniak or Goc to the Penguins as a deadline deal before today?
  • 6. On a non-Penguins note, I wonder how the Islanders would have done had they kept Vanek for the rest of the season and just traded his rights to a team before free agency. They certainly didn’t do well today.
  • 7. Finally, the Western Conference is insane. Pittsburgh and Boston strike me as easily the best in the East and I would put 3-5 Western teams above them without question. The Pens may be ready to go to the Cup Finals if everything works out well, but I don’t think anyone in the East is ready for what they would find there.

That’s all for now!  Thanks for reading and let’s start this playoff push!