After completing a trade that saw gunslinger James Neal shipped off to Nashville, I’m not so sure the Pittsburgh Penguins are done dealing.
While defenseman Kris Letang’s contract suggests he’d be a player likely to be traded, general manager Jim Rutherford doesn’t envision moving the former Norris candidate this summer, according to Rob Rossi of Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. So is goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, but Rossi reports the organization is holding out hope they can eventually re-sign him – his contract is up after this season.
However, one player who may be in play this Tuesday – the first day of free agency – is defenseman Paul Martin.
Although Martin was labeled by the prior coaching staff as the team’s top defenseman, Pittsburgh’s brass believes he is inclined to test the market next summer, instead of signing an extension with the club, per Rossi.
Martin also is set to make $5 million next season, which is tied for the fourth-most average annual value on the team, per Cap Geek. Considering Pittsburgh has major needs on the forward front when free agency commences, and Martin is only clogging the payroll and preventing another young defenseman from being inserted into the lineup, something tells me the Pens are mulling the idea of trading him.
Due to the fact the team doesn’t see Martin signing an extension, why not just trade him now, instead of letting him potentially walk without receiving anything? It’s bad enough that Matt Niskanen – who by all accounts was the team’s best defenseman this past season – is on the verge of leaving Pittsburgh and the team is reaping nothing because of it.
The only reason why the Penguins would be reluctant to trade Martin is the lack of a veteran presence in their defensive corps. Should Martin depart, Rob Scuderi would be the oldest, followed by Kris Letang, and the rest is blueliners in their early 20’s. If that’s playing a factor in their decision-making, it shouldn’t, because after witnessing players like Brian Dumoulin and Philip Samuelsson execute an oddly matured game last season, Martin’s possible departure won’t be all that detrimental.
All I’m saying is, given the circumstances, Martin seems like a viable piece to be traded. Hey, I mean, did anybody actually anticipate Neal being dealt? And if they didn’t hesitate to pull the trigger on that deal, I’m sure they’re contemplating Martin’s dismissal due to his impending free agency visit.
Either way, Pittsburgh isn’t done making roster adjustments in the slightest. Jul. 1 will tell all.
Tags: Pittsburgh Penguins