Despite Ray Shero no longer serving as general manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Jim Rutherford, his successor, has made it clear he isn’t shy when it comes to executing trades.
And, of course, I’m referring to the James Neal-to-Nashville deal.
The team has been notorious for being extremely active at the NHL’s trade deadline over recent years, and given Rutherford’s already made a colossal move of shipping Neal, I’m expecting this March will be no different.
Pittsburgh has a number of appealing players, and a handful of them are due to become unrestricted free agents next summer. But there’s not just experienced, rostered players, the Penguins have a few prospects other teams would surely be interested in as well.
So, here’s a group a players that could be traded in March:
Adams, 37, is a guy who may just be preventing a younger forward – like a Kapanen or Sill – from slotting in the lineup. And because teams desire a veteran at the deadline more often than not, he’s viable for a trade.
Obviously, the Pens wouldn’t garner much in return, but just being able to deal him to a contender – possibly a Western Conference team – could appease both parties, in that Pittsburgh would probably receive a late-round draft pick.
Adams in any deal is a stretch, but because he’s not exactly breaking the bank, he’s utterly affordable for other teams, and a change in sweaters may light a fire into him – who knows.
I still see Adams, like every other ex-Pen, returning to the organization in some capacity.
Bennett, 22, has been really hard to evaluate because he can’t stay on the ice. Having gone through multiple hand/wrist surgeries in recent years, Bennett’s value is at an all-time low right now.
However, the California kid is past his sophomore year, and looks to be headed for a second-line gig with Mr. Evgeni
Malkin. Should Bennett show he’s got what it takes to be a productive player in this league, Pittsburgh must make a decision on whether to jump ship or be invested in him at the deadline.
Players who have proved to be injury prone really never escape that branding – that’s what I’ve learned. And the Pens already have a number of players who support my claim, considering Pittsburgh had the most man-games lost last season.
Again, if Bennett’s displaying potential, there’s no harm, no foul if he stays or goes, but look for his name to surface.
Despres, 23, was recently re-signed to a two-year contract, and is expected to finally play a role with the Penguins for the majority of this next season. However, that may just be a showcasing.
Pittsburgh has a list of highly-touted defensemen in their system, and Despres’ roster spot this season could ultimately make him a a trade casualty in March. There’s still a lot of promise for Despres, but because he was poorly managed by the previous coaching staff, it may be time for him to start fresh.
And there are a lot of teams who’ll be intrigued, should Despres flourish in the first half of the season.
Martin, 33, is in the final year of his contract, and is making $5 million this next season – per Cap Geek. While Martin’s been widely regarded as the team’s best defenseman, he’s reportedly inclined to test free agent waters, rather than wanting to sign an extension – per Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
Pittsburgh already has three-to-four prospect defensemen capable of making the jump to the NHL, and while Martin
would certainly be a major contributor on the back-end for the Pens, there’s no telling if he’ll even make it a full season without getting injured.
Martin’s name will definitely surface at the deadline, as playoff teams would certainly look to add the veteran blueliner. Possibly Minnesota – his hometown.
Sutter, 25, is still in negotiations with the organization on a new deal, however, he’s been given multiple offers, and still, no agreement has been made. This worries me a little bit.
His camp is said to want a one-year deal, and if that’s the final outcome, Sutter could be looking for a massive paycheck next summer, and who knows if Pittsburgh’s willing to give it to him. Although the Pens are a little weak on the forward-side of prospects in their system, it’s not as if they have nothing.
We could see Sutter going down the same path Jordan Staal went, and simply just wanting to play a bigger role than a third-line center. And if that’s the case, watch him be trade bait.
Scuderi, 35, was really bad last season. Really bad. And he’s pocketing $3.75 million a year for the next three seasons, which is way too much dough.
While he’s certainly unappealing to other teams – because, let’s face it, nobody wants his contract – if he produces a resurgent first half, clubs may change their minds and want his veteran presence come postseason time. This is all depending on if Scuderi has steady playing time, of course.
And there’s no definitive answer for that, considering the team will probably integrate younger defensemen into the lineup. But should Scuderi show signs of life, unlike his flat-footed showcasing last season, he could become a trade option.
Zatkoff, 27, finally was able to show what he can do at the NHL level this past season, after years of being stuck in the minor-leagues. However, Rutherford went out and signed Thomas Greiss, who already figures to spell Marc-Andre Fleury.
That could mean Zatkoff will be on the move in March.
Although Zatkoff is probably due to be sent down to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, he still is a trade-able piece come the deadline, considering he now has NHL experience, and the Pens have multiple prospect goaltenders waiting in the wings. His age (27) is also a reason Zatkoff could be dealt.
It’s a long-shot, given NHL clubs desire a more veteran netminder presence, but Zatkoff could be a piece in a packaged deal.
Tags: Pittsburgh Penguins