Thursday, March 06, 2014

Penguins' trade deadline analysis

Lee Stempniak

The Penguins didn’t get Ryan Kesler, the best player available at this year’s deadline. Neither did anyone else. It’s possible the Penguins will continue their pursuit of Kesler in the off-season because Vancouver is likely to move Kesler, who is still under contract for the next two seasons at a reasonable $5 million per season, at some point.
“I don’t think there was a deal there to be made,” said Shero. “I think our goal going into this deadline, a lot of the focus media-wise was on Ryan Kesler not only in Pittsburgh, but around different media markets. He’s a real good player, but I think our thinking was to try and increase our depth up front and help our forward group. I think we’ve accomplished that and not touched any one off our roster.”
The Penguins also failed to land a top-six forward, puck-moving defenseman or backup goaltender.
With the acquisition of Marcel Goc and Lee Stempniak the Penguins addressed their lack of depth in the bottom half of their forward lines. Both are prototypical third-liner players with some offensive ability that can be used in all situations (power play and penalty kill).
Goc and Stempniak, both unrestricted free agents at the end of this season, are upgrades over Taylor Pyatt and the recently waived Chuck Kobasew. Goc was making $1.7 million from Florida while Stempniak was being paid $2.5 from Calgary.
“The good thing about these players is they’re very versatile guys,” Shero said.
“Where they’re going to play remains to be seen. There’s 20-plus games left in the regular season. I’m sure they’ll get an opportunity in the lineup to see the best fit is.”
Marcel Goc
While he doesn’t have the pedigree of Thomas Vanek or Matt Moulson, Stempniak could conceivably be placed on the top line with Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz, at least until Beau Bennett (broken hand) returns to health. Stempniak has had seasons of 27 and 28 goals but not since 2009-10. Goc, the 20th pick in 2001, could move to wing if needed.
“I think what we did today gives our coaching staff some options up front which I think makes us a better hockey team,” Shero said.
The acquisitions also give the Penguins some cap flexibility to bring up some of their injured players -- Paul Martin (broken hand), Kris Letang (stroke) and Tomas Vokoun (bloot clot) -- off long-term injured reserve.
While they Penguins didn’t make the splash that they’ve made in recent years, the moves go a long way to making the Penguins a better all-around team and tougher opponent in the lower-scoring playoffs.

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