March 4 is coming up rapidly, and the Penguins are on the outside looking in. What do the Penguins do before the deadline? If they want to make a run at the playoffs they surely can't sit back and do nothing. They need to get some help. In no specific order here are a few names that I think can help the Penguins with their march to the playoffs.
1. Colby Armstrong, Atlanta Thrashers. Colby was traded to Atlanta in last years deadline blockbuster to get winger Marian Hossa. A great deal at the time, but Colby had excellent chemistry with Crosby, something this team greatly needs.
He also adds grit to a lineup that has been lacking it since Fedotenko went down, with ironically a broken hand that he suffered in a fight with Colby. Colby is a restricted free agent after this season, and actually has a minimal cap hit. Not sure of the price tag here, but it surely couldn't be too expensive.
2. Alexander Frolov, Los Angeles Kings. Earlier this year the Kings were said to be interested in Alex Goligoski, and Tyler Kennedy from the Penguins. Frolov is a 26 year old forward with one season left on his current contract, which expires after the 2009-2010 season.
He has had three 20 goal seasons so far in the NHL which includes 35 in the '06-'07 season, and 21 so far this season. He is the type of scoring option that would be ideal to the Penguins success now, and in future years. The price tag of Goligoski and Kennedy isn't too steep either.
3. Nathan Horton, Florida Panthers. Horton is a 23 year old versatile forward that LOVES to shoot, as evidenced by his '06-'07 and '07-'08 shot numbers. He would have ranked No. 2 on the penguins in '07-'08 and No. 3 in '06-'07. One weakness the Penguins have is that a lot of players continually pass on shots, Horton, however wouldn't.
Horton also has netted 113 goals so far in his career, including three 27+ goal seasons. He is the type of player that would fit perfectly on a line with Crosby. Another plus is that he is locked up through the 2012-2013 season at a 4.0 mil cap hit per season. Not sure what it would take to get him, but I would expect to see Goligoski, and some other players leave.
4. Alex Kovalev, Montreal Canadiens. This one would be more of an offseason acquisition than a trade deadline one, but it's definitely on most Penguins fans wishlists. From watching the All-star game it sure seemed that Malkin and Kovalev had some chemistry between them, and that would only sweeten the acquisition of him.
With Kovalev being an unrestricted free agent after this year, it is much more likely to gain him through free agency than via trade. It still could happen, as maybe the Canadiens feel they don't have a chance at resigning him this offseason, they may as well deal him for some parts. Perhaps Alex Goligoski plus more?
5. Sergei Gonchar, Pittsburgh Penguins. Yeah, this really isn't an acquisition, but I did say here is a list of a few players that will help the Penguins march to the playoffs. Gonchar has yet to play a single minute for the Penguins this year, and his return will be welcomed.
Gonchar is the glue to a defensive unit that has been extremely inconsistent this year, especially on the offensive end. The Penguins power play has been lackluster this year, in major part due to the lack of zip from the point. Gonchar's return will IMMEDIATELY thrust the Power Play back into a more elite status.
What will the Penguins do up until the deadline? Who knows. All I know is that they need to make some moves to improve this team coming up to the deadline if they want to make a run towards a playoff berth. Some of you may ask, why all the talk with Goligoski in the trades, he's only a rookie?
Well, quite simply he's entering into Restricted Free Agency this year and at 23, he's only a few years younger than Whitney and actually older than Kris Letang. Plus, with those two seemingly here for the long haul, we already have two puck moving, offensive defensemen. Why not move him when his stock is high? Especially if we can obtain a Nathan Horton or even Alex Frolov.
There are some other players the Penguins seriously need back, including Mike Zigomanis. He was injured in early December, with what was considered a day-to-day undisclosed injury, and now it's been over two months, and now the season. We need a guy like Zigomanis, a faceoff specialist.
Since he went down the teams faceoff percentage has dropped, and they have also gone 12-18-1 since December 3. They need to get better in the faceoff circle, and get people other than Malkin and Crosby onto the score sheet. Here's to hoping the Penguins can rebound.