Pittsburgh Penguins Eying Trade for Toronto’s Joffrey Lupul?


The Pittsburgh Penguins have been very active this season when it comes to altering their roster by way of the trade market.

First there was the swap that sent sniper James Neal to Nashville for Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling.

Then the Pens traded for Rob Klinkhammer – before sending him to Edmonton for David Perron.

After that came the fourth-line pivot trade, as Pittsburgh and St. Lous swapped Marcel Goc for Maxim Lapierre.

And just yesterday, General Manager Jim Rutherford made yet another move, acquiring depth forward Daniel Winnik in exchange for Zach Sill and two draft picks.

With such an extensive trade record already put together this season, it would seem the Pens must be ready to buckle down and move forward with their roster, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

As the last few days tick down before the trade deadline, Rutherford has stated publicly that the Pens may not be done making moves.

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, one of those moves could involve another name from the Toronto Maple Leafs, as the Pens are eying a trade to snag winger Joffrey Lupul.

“I believe that Pittsburgh is in on this” said Elliotte on Sportsnet 960 radio recently. “It’s not easy for the Penguins – they are right at the cap – but they have some young pieces that would definitely interest Toronto, particularly on defense.”

With a cap hit of $5.25 million, Lupul certainly wouldn’t be a cheap pick-up.

The Penguins currently have less than $1 million in cap space, meaning they would have to shed significant salary in order to even afford Lupul if they did get him.

Rutherford has already stated that Paul Martin won’t be traded this season, so barring any change on that front, the veteran defender’s $5 million cap hit won’t be eligible to be taken off the books.

Christian Ehrhoff and Rob Scuderi could be other options (both hold cap hits of $4 million), but with the Pens still looking to upgrade their blue line, it would be foolish to move solid defensemen like these two simply to bolster the team’s already-strong forward corps.

Thus, if Rutherford is keen enough on bringing Lupul to Pittsburgh, he’ll have to get creative.

Other options like Steve Downie ($1 million), Beau Bennett ($900,000), and Thomas Greiss ($1 million) – who have all drawn the ire of Pittsburgh’s coaching staff at times this season – could be included in a potential deal as well.

Lupul is certainly a quality player and could do some serious damage in the Pens’ top-six, where he would most likely skate with Evgeni Malkin and Chris Kunitz (sending Blake Comeau down to the Pens’ third line).

Dec 16, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs left wing Joffrey Lupul (19) skates away with the puck as Anaheim Ducks center Nate Thompson (44) looks on at Air Canada Centre. The Maple Leafs beat the Ducks 6-2. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

The veteran winger is no slouch when it comes to offensive numbers. He has four 20-goal seasons to his name (one as recent as 2013-14) and has thrice topped 50 points.

This season has been less kind to him, however, as he currently sits with only 9 goals and 10 assists in 33 games.

Perhaps the most important number when considering Lupul as a trade option, however, is games played.

Despite playing in the league for 12 seasons, Lupul has suited up for over 70 games in a season only four times – and they all came in his first five seasons.

He did reach 69 games in ’12-’13, but dealt with injuries both before and after that campaign.

While he is undoubtedly talented, the last thing Pittsburgh needs is another player with a penchant for ending up on the injured reserve. The Pens have had enough difficulty with injuries to key players – enough that durability must be of central focus when assessing potential additions.

Also problematic is the fact that adding Lupul would essentially move Comeau off of Malkin’s line (it’s highly unlikely any of the other top-six wingers would get bumped down). While Comeau could look good with Brandon Sutter, he could just as easily fall flat without Malkin as his centreman.

What we do know is that Comeau can play well with Malkin, however, and so there is no need to add another top-six winger – especially when doing so would be seriously taxing, as it would be if the Pens went after Lupul.

Simply put, the Penguins have a good thing going with Comeau, and the other three top-six wingers – Chris Kunitz, David Perron, and Patric Hornqvist – are exactly where they need to be.

Any other deadline deals should focus squarely on the defensive end, where the Pens are still trying to fill the gap left by Olli Maatta‘s absence.

Should Pittsburgh manage to land Lupul at a manageable price, without having to give up too much in order to shed salary, he could be a great addition down the stretch run.

But as that seems unlikely, the Pens would be better suited eying a veteran defender to play alongside Christian Ehrhoff.