Sidney Crosby has played with a handful of wingers thus far during his short tenure with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Colby Armstrong, Marian Hossa, and Bill Guerin all were thought to be Crosby’s counterpart. When they all departed due to various reasons, Crosby since then has been stuck with a foggy blueprint for his first line.
The Pens have tried slotting Evgeni Malkin on the same line, but it never balanced the team’s formidability. And since Malkin now has his go-to winger James Neal, who did wonders for him last season, wouldn’t it make sense to find that same chemistry with Crosby on the top line?
In the past years, when Crosby has been more successful than usual, it was because he had that one prominent player next to him. Previously the Penguins made a move to acquire Hossa for the top line, it had excelled just as well as the Malkin-Neal combination does now. And when the Pens went out and got Guerin, who played alongside Crosby, the team took home the Stanley Cup. Coincidence or not–it worked.
So why not trade for Jarome Iginla?
Yes, he has a hefty contract and his age is getting closer to retirement, but his situation fits the bill. On the verge of free agency, Iginla might spark interest in seeking to win a championship elsewhere.
However, the 35-year-old captain would be hard to pry from the team considering he’s only played for the Flames. The Penguins do have pieces they could package though. Considering their stock piled with young talent and have other players they could patch together to match the salary–this has potential.
But it all comes down to who the Pen’s would be willing to part ways with.
First and foremost, Paul Martin has to be part of the deal. His $5.5-million a year salary is the fourth most on the team and almost matches Iginla’s $7-million a year. Plus if the Penguins want to be able to sign Malkin and Letang long-term this summer, moving Martin’s contract is a must. The next possible piece could be either Pascal Dupuis or Tyler Kennedy. Dupuis and Kennedy will both be free agents soon, and the Pens can find talent of these two in a lot of other players.
But if they’d rather keep Dupuis and Kennedy, they can look towards their young talent. Chances are, the Pens won’t be able to sign all their young players. And since they probably won’t, or wouldn’t dare trade, Derrick Pouliot, Olli Maata or Beau Bennett, this means all the others could become expendable.
Joseph Morrow, Simon Despres, Eric Tangradi, Scott Harrington and more, are the names that would peek the most interest in a trade. Morrow and Despres are recent first round selections, while Tangradi and Harrington are both second round draft choices. Morrow and Harrington have yet to see the NHL level, but Despres and Tangradi both have experience playing in the regular-season and in the playoffs.
After discovering Beau Bennett was a camp invitee, the Penguins might consider keeping him on the roster. The 2010 20th overall selection has led the Penguins AHL team so far this season with 24 points (6 G, 18 A). So while the Pens acclimate him to the NHL, he might be ready to skate with Crosby, but he might not be what the Pens figure will win them a stanley cup.
Did we all forget that Crosby skated on the same line as Iginla with Team Canada during the past Winter Olympics?
Remember? Iginla’s dish to Crosby was the goal that pushed Team Canada to their gold medal win over Team USA. So if the feeling of being hesitant on pulling the plug is over the shortened season and less time to prepare, they shouldn’t. Crosby has a past history with him.
If another reason as to why the Pens might pass on Iginla involves being able to re-sign him–the organization shouldn’t worry too much. I think Iginla would, if given the opportunity, relinquish a little salary to remain in Pittsburgh.
Wouldn’t a cup at the end of this year make him feel even more comfortable?