Penguins Report Tracker: Rumors and Speculation Ahead of NHL Trade Deadline

Alison Myers@AlisonM_110Correspondent IFebruary 21, 2012

Penguins Report Tracker: Rumors and Speculation Ahead of NHL Trade Deadline

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    The NHL trade deadline is now just one week away, and teams are searching the market to see what, if anything, they can add to their lineup to make a playoff push, or what they can pick up to help them start to rebuild.

    The Pittsburgh Penguins are currently in better shape than some of the teams looking for pieces. They currently have a record of 33-21-5 for 71 points and sixth place in the Eastern Conference. There is no question that they will make the playoffs for the sixth straight season.

    With that in mind, what should the Penguins do by next Monday, if anything? Will Ray Shero choose to stand pat, or can he work his magic again?

    Keep reading to find out the latest news and suggestions for the Penguins as the clock ticks down to 3 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 27.

Sidney Crosby's Status and the Trade Deadline

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    On Saturday, Shelly Anderson of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that the status of captain Sidney Crosby could hinder the Penguins from making any desired moves as the trade deadline approaches.

    However, as much as the captain would like to give Ray Shero an update, he stated in the Post-Gazette that he doesn't have enough of an idea of where he is.

    Crosby said:

    I'm just trying to get back. I'm hoping to get back as soon as possible. I'm not going to pretend I know when that is. So am I going to say I'll be ready in a month, or two weeks or a week? No. But I wouldn't be going through all of this if I didn't want to play as soon as possible. That's really all I'm worried about.

    Crosby's salary could be used to make any depth moves necessary to get the Penguins through the playoff run, but that's only if he stays on long-term injured reserve.

    While it's refreshing to hear Crosby be honest after so much runaround from the rest of the organization, the fact that he can't give a timetable means Shero may have to settle with standing pat or being a little more selective on the market.

Could the Penguins Move a Defenseman?

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    Paul Martin, one of the Pens' biggest free-agent signings of 2010, is in a slump this season.

    After posting 24 points and a plus-nine in 2010-11, he has fallen to 18 points and a minus-11 in his second season in Pittsburgh. His performance is far from the valuable offensive defenseman he was though to be when he was brought in last summer.

    However, Martin would not be easy to move. He has a $5 million per year salary through 2015 and a limited no-trade clause, meaning he would only accept a trade to certain teams. It's not known what those teams are, but it makes things more difficult for the Penguins.

    That said, Martin is not the only possible trade target on the blue line—Ben Lovejoy could also be packing his bags.

    Lovejoy, who turned 28 on Monday, has been a frequent healthy scratch for the Pens. He hasn't played since a Feb. 1 game against the Toronto Maple Leafs and has three points in 26 games. With a salary of just $525,000, many teams looking for defense could welcome having a young blueliner.

One More Chance for Eric Tangradi?

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    Eric Tangradi, arguably the Penguins' top forward prospect, was recalled from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the AHL on Monday afternoon.

    Tangradi has put up 31 points in 37 games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this season, but his NHL stints have been less successful. He has no points and 12 penalty minutes through 12 games in Pittsburgh this year, and overall, he has just three points and a minus-nine through 28 NHL games.

    When this latest recall was announced, some began to wonder if Tangradi would be in the lineup to be showcased for any scouts in attendance at tomorrow's game versus the New York Rangers. There is also the possibility that he is getting one more chance at the NHL level to help Ray Shero decide if Tangradi is available to be moved.

    However, it's more likely that Tangradi was brought up because Matt Cooke may not play in tomorrow's game. Cooke was hit with a shot in Sunday's game against the Buffalo Sabres, but returned to play. He was still given today off, though, to rest.

    Still, Tangradi is a third-year pro, and if he soon does not prove his worth in Pittsburgh, he could be sent packing.

Will This Be a Quiet Deadline for Pittsburgh?

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    In Monday's Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Dejan Kovacevic detailed a conversation he had with Ray Shero before Sunday's game in Buffalo, asking Shero about his plans for the trade deadline.

    Shero didn't get into great detail, but he told Kovacevic, "We're playing well, getting healthy, and that means more than anything. If I could get a 40-goal scorer or something that makes sense, I'd do it. But..."

    No, Kovacevic didn't forget to finish writing that last sentence. Shero just trailed off, which indicates that he only wants to make a deal if the price is right. Per usual, Shero will not panic and overpay for a player who is past his prime or underperforming.

    Also, it's not like the Penguins need offense. They just re-signed James Neal, who is having a breakout season with the first 30-goal campaign of his career. Evgeni Malkin is leading the NHL with 71 points.

    While one shouldn't rule out the possibility of Shero working the phones until the deadline, no one should be surprised if the Penguins stand pat, either.