The trade deadline is quickly approaching for the NHL with only 13 days, 6 hours, 15 minutes and some odd seconds left. With that in mind, I figured I would take the time to give my impressions of what the Pens situation is, in my warped mind, and what they should or should not do at this point.
First, a comment. I don't think that by any stretch of the imagination, that the Penguins season is over at this point. No, really. I don't. I may say that it is getting bad or that I am losing faith but the reality of the matter is, we all [as fans] say those things but don't necessarily believe them. So to that point, it ain't over yet. As long as you have a group of guys in that locker room that aren't ready to give up, then I won't either. The no-quit attitude that the Penguins have always had is still there and you can see it in the way guys prepare for games. Practices are still as intense as ever and you are seeing guys work extra to keep the intensity up.
All this, despite the fact that no one really knows the identity of the team at this point. With Sid and Geno out of the lineup, as well as a host of other injured players, casual observers don't really recognize many sweaters out there on the ice. But that is just the way I like it. The less pressure to succeed, the better. The Penguins have quietly ranked in the top four in team defense and penalty killing all season. Both of those statistics have taken numerous teams deep into the playoffs. So if Tyler Kennedy has to be the leading goal scorer on the team (with 11 mind you) going into the playoffs, then so be it. At least they will still be there.
Now for the trade deadline...I think this comes down to a few "what if" scenarios. First, what if Crosby returns? If that occurs, and he remains healthy with little to no side effects of the concussion, that brings back the scoring prowess that the Penguins currently are lacking. He has already been quoted as saying he expects to play again this season so this is a likely scenario. No impact on the trade deadline for his sake.
However, the same cannot be said for Evgeni Malkin. There is no what if here. He is most definitely done for the season with an ACL/MCL injury. This puts the Pens in a predicament that plays heavily on the first scenario. If Crosby comes back healthy, I would expect Ray Shero to try and temporarily replace Malkin with a scoring forward so that the playoffs hope stays in reach. If Crosby can't return, I really don't see Shero replacing both of them since the price may be too high but anything is possible. A capable scoring center would be perfect but with the continuing struggle on the wings, picking up one or two would compliment the top three lines.
Bob McKenzie from TSN brought up the fact that the Senator's might be looking to unload Alex Kovalev and his $5 million contract. That was interesting considering Alex had some of his best years, statistically, in Pittsburgh. But, he's no spring chicken. With Malkin on IR, they'd be more than capable of taking on his contract since he would be a rental until the end of the season. Also in the conversation was PA Parenteau (funny considering recent events). I wouldn't mind this one as much since he'd be bringing 32 points and would only incur a $600K hit to the cap. Some other rumors include Devin Setoguchi, who I would love to see in a Pens uniform, Stephen Weiss from Florida, and Jason Arnott which would give them size at center but I'm not sure about the longevity.
I'm not excited about what they may have to give up though. The rumor mill is churning with the possibility of the Pens having to wrap up a trade package that features a few draft picks, minor league players, and possibly a starter. The name I am hearing is Alex Goligoski. I will be crushed if he leaves the team as I think he is the future of the defense. He just hasn't been able to break onto one of the top lines with the acquisition of Michalek and Martin last fall. Orpik and Letang have been playing inspired hockey this year so Gogo has become somewhat expendable. He would most definitely give half the teams in the league a boost on the PP and PK.
So to summarize my incoherent ramblings...Yes, I think they will be making some moves. When it comes down to brass tacks, Trader Ray never disappoints. I see at least one forward of significant credentials coming over, if not a wing and a center. Either way, I think the hole in the bucket will be filled in only a few days.