And why they won't happen
People like trade rumours. The NHL is always swirling with them, no matter how outlandish they are. Unfortunately that's the problem with them, most rumours are completely made up. Most of them come from fans hoping their team is involved in a blockbuster deal or from websites looking for hits.
Today we look at some of the players rumoured to be heading to the Pittsburgh Penguins and debunk them. Yes, it's less fun to shoot down rumours than it is to create them, but it's also more realistic.
RUMOUR: MARIAN GABORIK TO THE PENGUINS: This is probably the most common of all trade rumours. Fueled by the dream of a top level winger for Sidney Crosby, and with visions of last year's Hossa deal floating through their heads, Penguins fans have been dreaming up Marian Gaborik trade rumours since it came out that he would not be re-signing in Minnesota.
Realistically this will not happen. Gaborik's salary this year is $7.5 million. The Pittsburgh Penguins do not have this kind of cap space and they will not have that kind of cap space unless they trade one of the centerpieces of the organization. I do not believe Ray Shero will do that, especially since Gaborik is a free agent next season. I don't think this one will be happening any time soon.
RUMOUR: ILYA KOVALCHUK TO THE PENGUINS: I would classify this one in a similar category as the Gaborik one. Kovalchuk is signed until the end of next season and he too will be making $7.5 million a year. The fact that he has another year left on his contract means that Atlanta would likely place a higher price on Kovalchuk than they did on Hossa last year, who was set to become a free agent at the end of the season. Ray Shero has repeatedly stated that keeping the Penguins' core together long term is his main goal. It would take trading some significant members of the core in order to get Kovalchuk, both to get Atlanta to trade him and to fit him under the cap. This is not going to happen.
RUMOUR: JASON SPEZZA TO THE PENGUINS: Spezza has struggled this year. He was publicly called out by Ottawa Senators' coach Craig Hartsberg and he has not been scoring well recently. There have been rumours that Ottawa could be looking to move him. However Spezza is a center, which is the last thing the Penguins need right now. It's not happening.
In all honesty, I don't believe the Penguins will make a blockbuster trade this year. Of course, no one expected the Hossa trade last year, but it's not reasonable to assume such a thing will happen every year.
The Penguins do not have the kind of cap space available to make a deal like that without giving up something significant and their prospect pool has diminished since many prospects have been either called up or traded away.
So what will the Penguins do?
In the immediate future I think they won't do anything. This is our team for at least the next few months.
The Penguins have depth in two areas: defense and center. With the injuries to our defense, I can't see any defensemen being traded for fowards until at least Whitney, and likely Gonchar, returns. The only center that could be traded is Jordan Staal. Crosby and Malkin are untouchable, Zigomanis wins faceoffs, and Kennedy and Talbot bring grit and hard work. As stated before, I do not link Jordan Staal should be traded. His game in Detroit last night showed the kind of potential he has. Depth like that wins Stanley Cups.
I think it all comes down to money. Keeping Staal will likely cost them a decent chunk of change, but trading him for anyone of value will likely cost just as much if not more. They're right up against a salary cap that looks like it may even decrease next year, so they don't have very much leverage. Someone like Darryl Sydor may be shipped closer to the deadline, but it won't be a blockbuster deal.
And I'm fine with that. I think this team is good enough to compete for the Cup and with a few more months to gel they will be in fine form when Gonchar returns in March. The issue then will once again be having too many quality NHL-level defensemen.
Gonchar, Whitney, Orpik, Letang, Scuderi, Gill, Eaton, Goligoski and Sydor. Defintely too many defensemen. Sydor will likely be traded, but that still leaves eight men filling six roles. I'm not sure what will happen there but Goligoski could be sent back down to Wilkes-Barre (because he doesn't have to clear waivers, not because of his play) and Eaton will likely be a scratch most games.
Eaton might be on the trading block at that point. In the offseason he signed a deal that pays him two million dollars a season. On a team that's pushing the cap limit that's too much for someone sitting on the bench, so he could be moved. This especially holds true if the team decides to keep Goligoski in Pittsburgh.
The bottom line is, don't expect any dramatic moves from the Pens. It's fun to speculate, but I can't see it happening.