After another disappointing loss on Saturday, it’s become clear the Pittsburgh Penguins need to make a change.
The Pittsburgh Penguins were shut out by the Anaheim Ducks and Pittsburgh native John Gibson in a 4-0 shellacking. This game comes at the tail end of a mediocre December for the Pens. Although they’ve managed a 5-6 record through this month, fans are worried the current state of the team squashes any chance of a three-peat.
To bolster the team’s depth, General Manager Jim Rutherford made two recent moves. He traded for defenseman Jamie Oleksiak and goaltender Michael Leighton. Oleksiak is a big body who brings a physical presence on the back end. Leighton will share netminding duties with DeSmith in the AHL.
These moves were definitely not the solution that would immediately lift the team out of it’s funk, but some suspected they could be a means to an end. Elliotte Friedman would go on to call them, “the tip of the iceberg”.
Ian Cole: Trade Bait?
Via Post Gazette, the Pens were actively shopping Ian Cole in late November. It came to the point where the 28 year old blue liner was scratched in three consecutive games.
Pensburgh goes on to write that by adding Oleksiak, there is a replacement ready whenever Cole is shipped out.
The above tweet from Mark Madden makes it seem like whenever trades can resume, a move will be made. Given the Pens attempt at shopping #28 and the acquisition of Jamie Oleksiak, you have to assume Cole is on his way out.
Earlier this month, we targeted players from the Ottawa Senators who could aid these struggling Pens. J.G. Pageau, Derick Brassard, and Mike Hoffman are all names floating out there as potential returns.
Pageau or Brassard would fill the hole at 3C quite nicely. Either of these two would provide scoring spark. When moving Cole however, you’re still losing a piece of the defense. Even with the addition of Oleksiak, the Pens would have to bring over a guy like Cody Ceci to help stabilize the shaky D.
Ottawa is a team that will be looking to rebuild, so a deal would have to involve Cole, some prospects and some picks.
If the team is not looking to shell out some youth, a team like the Toronto Maple Leafs could prove a good match. Rumors have been swirling about the Pens trying to acquire Tyler Bozak for a while now. As the Leafs look to make a run, they would want some depth to aid their team.
Cole for Bozak would most likely not happen. I could however see Bozak and Nikita Zaitsev being flipped for Cole and a depth scorer. Conor Sheary could be used as a chip, bu preferably Carl Hagelin would be let go. His 4.00 million cap hit might be too difficult to justify when dealing with other teams, however.
Regardless of what trade transpires, Pittsburgh Penguins fans can look forward to December 27th, when trade freeze is lifted, and the Pens take on the Blue Jackets.