Feb 3, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins center Brandon Sutter (16) handles the puck in the corner against the Ottawa Senators during the first period at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Penguins won 2-1 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Shero Must Improve Pens' Third-Line

 

Pittsburgh Penguins’ general manager Ray Shero is now in the spotlight until Wednesday, and he’s got to survey the market for a piece to improve the third-line.

Over recent days, Shero has been tied to actively chasing Vancouver Canucks’ forward Ryan Kesler, and according to NHL Analyst and Pittsburgh Penguins’ correspondent Mike Colligan, it may be because they long for that former trio of dominant centers.

Perhaps the departure of Jordan Staal affected their structure more than first anticipated. Don’t get me wrong, Shero’s hands were tied once Staal rejected a long-term offer of 10-years, so, he all but bought his ticket out of town. However, Shero may be itching to bring back that flavor Staal provided.

If that’s the case, and the Kesler’ rumors are valid, then that means he feels Brandon Sutter – who was acquired in the Staal-trade – isn’t the right guy for the job moving forward. While I agree that Sutter’s expendable, given he’s also a restricted free-agent at season’s end, and been highly disappointing on the offensive front, he’s not sole problem the third-line isn’t producing.

Shero doesn’t have a lot of cap-room, and the uncertainty surrounding some of their highest-paid players who are injured are complicating matters.

Now, do I think Kesler would drastically improve the third-lines’ effectiveness? Yes, of course. But do I think he’s the answer to fixing the line? Not entirely.

In my opinion, Sutter’s inability to show up on the scoresheet is in part to how he’s had a million different wingers flow through his line. If Shero can go out and concoct a deal that will bring in two highly-skilled third-line wingers for Sutter, you sequentially see Sutter’s production increase.

As referenced before though, Sutter’s contract is up after this season, so, Shero may just desire to ship him instead of re-negotiating a new deal. Again, inserting Kesler to the lineup is a GREAT idea, however, not necessary.

And not at the cost of including highly-touted defensive prospect Derrick Pouliot in the deal – who was allegedly offered before the Olympics, according to Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Look, you got to remember, Staal’s absence is not the sole reason why Pittsburgh’s been unable to lift the ancient chalice recently, because he was still on the roster when they fell flat against Montreal in the 2010 playoffs, and when they laid an egg versus Philadelphia in 2012. However, Staal did have great wingmen in Matt Cooke and Tyler Kennedy.

That’s what they need to gift Sutter with.

Tags: Pittsburgh Penguins

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