The Pittsburgh Penguins are gearing up to make a run for their third consecutive Stanley Cup.
Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford will be working his little fingers to the bone. The typing, texting, and phone calls a general manager makes in the weeks leading up to the NHL trade deadline are enough to make Adam Schefter blush.
The Penguins will be looking to add to their team and load up on talent for a deep postseason run. At past year’s deadlines, Rutherford acquired players like Justin Schultz, Ron Hainsey, and Mark Streit to bolster a lackluster defensive core.
However this season, Olli Maatta, Brian Dumoulin, Kris Letang, and Schultz have formed a potent top four defensive group. Add Ian Cole, Jamie Oleksiak, Chad Ruhwedel, and (I guess) Matt Hunwick, the Penguins defense is solid.
So unlike previous years, the rumors attached to the 2018 deadline have all been forward based. This is partly due to the Penguins offensive struggles in the first half, partly due to a fat market. Several high profile top six wingers are reportedly listed as trade bait, and the Penguins have been named as possible suitors.
A name that has been blipping on the Pittsburgh Penguins radar, seemingly since the beginning of the season is Buffalo Sabres forward Evander Kane. Kane is 26 year old winger with a mean streak and a scoring touch. My earliest memory of him is the time he KO’d Matt Cooke in 2010.
As mentioned before, Kane is aggressive but he can play. He often lines up with Buffalo’s top centers Jack Eichel or Ryan O’Reilly, and he has 36 points this season on a bad Buffalo team. He is however, currently in a rut, going pointless in his last 10 games.
His skill and natural ability make him a perfect candidate for a Pittsburgh resurgence party. Playing alongside top talent like Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby will help any player restablsih their game. Oleksiak, Schultz and Phil Kessel are great examples of players that left their less-than-perfect scenarios and are flourishing with the Pens.
Additonally, Kane would be a welcome addition considering the team has been injury stricken at a less than ideal time. With Patric Hornqvist out, a spot with the Pens top six wingers has opened up.
Sportingnews compiled a list of Tweets and reports from NHL insiders to get the scoop for the price on Kane.
"Last week, TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reported Sabres general manager Jason Botterill sought a first-round draft pick, a prospect and a conditional pick. On Tuesday, his colleague Darren Dreger followed that up in saying there are teams claiming Botterill also wants an NHL roster player included in that package."
Now this was earlier in the season, about a month ago. Since then, Kane offensive production has severely dipped. The lack of offense, the fact he’s a UFA, and rumors of him being a distraction and nuisance might mean Buffalo would part with him for less.
If any deal were to be made, the Penguins should attempt to salvage their 2018 first round draft choice. The first round will have plenty of talented defenseman available, and the Penguins prospect pool is low on legitimate defensive talent. This means the second rounder will most likely have to go, but a pick in the top 31 is better than the top 62.
Given all this, it is (once again) seeming like Conor Sheary would be a corner piece to the trade. His 3 million dollar salary would do nicely to balance out the cap hit of Kane. He’s 25 and could be an immediate roster player for Buffalo. If a prospect has to go, I wouldn’t sacrifice the upside of Daniel Sprong or Zach Aston-Reese.
Dominik Simon has proven he can play at the NHL level, but when he’s not playing on an Sidney Crosby’s line, he’s almost invisible. If he is still considered a prospect, he could be added with Sheary and the pick. If not, someone like Teddy Blueger or JS Dea may also do.
Anytime you have to sacrifice a roster player, it stings. However, the above deal would give the Pittsburgh Penguins a high profile scoring threat needed to succeed in the post season.