The Pittsburgh Penguins are firing on all cylinders, going 8-1-1 in their last 10 games and sitting in 2nd place in the Metropolitan Division. They look poised to make a run at a 3rd straight Stanley Cup, but will they make a lot of changes at the February 26 trade deadline? Let’s look at some questions facing the Penguins:
1) What will they do about cap space?
The Penguins currently have less than $1 million in available cap space. This prevents them from trading for a player with a big salary unless they trade someone on the roster with a big salary. Who would they give up on the current roster? Maybe defensemen Matt Hunwick ($2.25 million) or Ian Cole ($2.1 million), goaltender Tristan Jarry ($630,000) or forward Conor Sheary ($2.075 million)?
2) What do they need?
The big need all season has been for a 3rd line center, but Riley Sheahan has been playing well lately (4 goals, 4 assists in his last 10 games). They still need depth at center so look for GM Jim Rutherford to make a move for a 4th line center.
Do they need a backup goaltender? Currently they have Jarry and Casey DeSmith as backups and they have played well. Will Rutherford want a veteran goaltender to backup Matt Murray? The past few playoff runs have shown that they’ll need at least two good goaltenders to win the Stanley Cup.
3) What will they give up?
Besides the players on the current roster listed above, they can give up draft choices or prospects. One prospect that might go is Daniel Sprong, who was up briefly with the Penguins this year but fell out of favor with management.
4) Who are they looking for?
Some of the names that the Penguins are rumored to be interested include: Ottawa Centers Jean-Gabriel Pageau ($3.1 million) and Derick Brassard ($5 million), Montreal center Tomas Plekanec ($6 million), New York Rangers wing Michael Grabner ($1.65 million) and former Penguin (and unofficial dad) Matt Cullen ($1 million).