Why The Pens Should Buy at the Trade Deadline

Published on February 24th, 2012

Ray Shero has a lot to weigh with the trade deadline looming. Should he stay with the team he has now, or should he go and acquire a player or two to fortify his team? There are plenty of reasons to entertain both thoughts.

Yesterday, I looked into why Shero should not pull the trigger on a trade; today I’m weighing in on why he should.

More after the jump…

 


SECONDARY SCORING
Since December 13, 2011 the line of Chris Kunitz, Evgeni Malkin, and James Neal have accounted for over half of the Penguins goals at home.

With one line providing so much of the scoring, this Penguins team could be in line for a very short playoff run, especially if they run into a hot goalie like they did with Dwayne Roloson against Tampa Bay last season.

If Pittsburgh’s opponents are successful at shutting down the Malkin line, they could very well give the Penguins another early exit.  Also, keep in mind that Neal has just one power-play goal in his last 15 games and zero in the Pens last 10 games.

While Tyler Kennedy is skating right now, there is no reason to believe he can return to the play that earned him a 2-year, $2M contract last season.  His play this year has been very subpar, though he has been plagued by injuries for a good chunk of the year.

The Penguins bottom six could definitely benefit from a gritty rental with a little scoring punch. Craig Adams, Richard Park, Joe Vitale, and Arron Asham have attributed only 13 goals combined this season, and while their role is different from the rest of the team, the Pens could still use more balanced scoring throughout their lineup.

TEAM GRIT
Shero has great luck when it comes to acquiring gritty players at the deadline. Craig Adams, Gary Roberts, and Billy Guerin were all big wins for Shero.

With Arron Asham in-and-out of the lineup throughout the season, you could argue that the time is now to pick up some grit. Not taking anything away from Dustin Jeffrey and Richard Park, but they are not exactly intimidating figures out there.

Paul Gaustad is a player that could really help round out the Penguins bottom six in scoring, size, and grittiness. Gaustad is 6’4″ 229 pounds and is in the final year of his contract in Buffalo and his season cap hit is acquirable at only 2.3M for the season. He could fit in perfectly in the Pens system.

His 94 hits rank third among the Sabres and would compliment the Pens style of grinding opposing teams down throughout the playoffs. Gaustad is also 56.2% on face-offs this season, something in which the Pens as a team are only 49.7%.

 

CAP SPACE
Currently with Sidney Crosby on the shelf, Shero has a nice cushion cap-wise to make a trade. Keep in mind there is no salary cap in the playoffs, so Crosby would be able to play if he gets healthy. If Shero does take on another contract or two in the shadow of Crosby’s cap hit, it will almost assuredly be a rent-a-player.

With James Neal’s extension about to kick in next season, Shero could also be looking at clearing cap space to better set up the future of the team. Neal has a cap hit of five million dollars a year for the next six seasons and the cap has not been set for next year and many have predicted it will go down.

Very few contracts on the team make any sense to move though but I couldn’t talk about clearing cap space without bringing up Paul Martin. Martin has struggled in head coach Dan Bylsma’s system almost all season and his No Movement Clause in his contract makes him more difficult to trade. If the Pens can send him to another contender in exchange for depth, it can become a win-win situation for both parties involved, but I tend to believe that Martin will continue to be a Penguin after the trade deadline.

DEFENSIVE DEPTH
The Pens could also benefit from a rental D-Man with Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek not exactly playing the best hockey of their careers this season. Having Ben Lovejoy as your seventh defensemen is somewhat alarming to some Pens fans.  Carolina defenseman Bryan Allen is a player whose name has been linked to the Penguins in many trade rumors. Allen is a guy who could fit very well in the Pittsburgh lineup if the price is right, but based from recent trades, he may very well be out of the running.

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