As the 2013-2014 NHL season winds closer and closer to the month-long Olympic break in February, the window for teams to acquire new talent via trades is shrinking.
A week after the Olympics end, the NHL has set their annual trade deadline day for March 5th, leaving teams with little time to try and ink any deals before they start their final run at the playoffs.
Given the time crunch, many are speculating that if teams do decide to shake up their rosters with trade acquisitions, they will most likely be done before the league shuts down for the Olympics in February, leaving general managers with a little more breathing room to swing that final deal.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are no exception.
The Pens have been at the center of various trade rumors since October. First and foremost, Pittsburgh has its sights set on replacing the injured Pascal Dupuis on the top line with Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz. Finding wingers that play well with Crosby has proven to be a bit of challenge for the Pens in the past, but nevertheless, there are still a handful of names being floated around as possible targets.
Perhaps the most frequently mentioned target is Calgary Flames winger Mike Cammalleri. The 31-year-old Cammalleri is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, making him a logical target. In his nine full NHL seasons, Cammalleri has garnered the reputation as a Penguin killer, most famously when he torched the Pens in the 2010 Eastern-Conference Semifinals as a member of the Canadiens.
The biggest advantage Cammalleri brings is his versatility. He’s a little more skilled than Dupuis, although they both play a similar style that would fit well with Sid. His grit would also make him an excellent option to stick on the third line with Brandon Sutter, which at this point is probably Pittsburgh’s weakest spot.
Having said that, Cammalleri is currently out with a concussion, so his health is also a factor of concern for any team that may want to trade for him.
Other names have been mentioned as well, most notably Matt Moulson of the Buffalo Sabres, as well as several members of the Winnipeg Jets like Blake Wheeler, Devin Setoguchi, or even Olli Jokinen. Moulson would be an awesome fit, seeing as how he had years of experience playing with another exceptional talent in John Tavares when he was on the Islanders. Also, much like Cammalleri, I could see him slotting in on the third line well.
Wheeler is also a member of the U.S. Olympic team, which just so happens to be coached by Penguins bench boss Dan Bylsma. He’s got some serious speed, something Bylsma and Shero both value highly when evaluating a forward.
While Pittsburgh will probably be bringing someone in, that also means that someone must be going out. With the top-six (for the most part) off limits, that leaves basically defenseman, prospects, or draft picks to be the outgoing parts in any deal Pittsburgh makes.
As evidenced by his acquisitions at last year’s trade deadline, Shero is not afraid to ship draft picks or top prospects for a rental, however they have expressed the opinion that they would much rather find a long term solution at wing, as opposed to another Jarome Iginla. If they do trade any current Penguins, defenseman Simon Despres, seen by many to be the most expendable in an extremely deep pool of young blue-liners, would also be a likely target.
Wheeler would most likely bring the highest asking price, with a forward (Beau Bennett), as well as a young blue-liner like Despres or even Olli Maatta being shipped to the Jets.
Again, these are just rumors. Nothing has been done officially, but these are just the guys that make the most sense given their current contracts and the Penguins needs.
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