Penguins Defense Needs Some Nastiness!

Jon LambertContributor IFebruary 25, 2009

Alright. I shared my thoughts on the Penguins need for a winger for Crosby by proposing Antropov—now it gets hard.

The Penguins defensive corps! Excuse me, my stomach just flipped.

Where else could you find a 6' 7" 240 lb. defenseman who doesn't use his size (Hey Hal, watch Chara play a game) and loves to give up the puck in his own end, another defenseman in Eaton who is allergic to contact and Ryan Whitney, who thinks being physical is giving guys face washes from behind in scrums? We've been spoiled by roughnecks such as Ulf and Kasparaitis who made up for their lack of offensive contributions by putting the well-being of their bodies and the rules at risk in the name of winning.

So they're not being physical, then their bringing offense to the! The three have COMBINED for five goals, 20 assists, 75 PIM's, and a lovely -11 rating.  Let's see, without Gonchar in the lineup and asking Whitney to QB the power play, the power play (an NHL top 10 regular) plummeted to the bottom five of the league. Whitney got big money by piggybacking off a powerplay lead by Gonchar, and now has suggested he can't be the man, a good No. 2, but not the man. Yes, he missed time with foot surgery, but Gonchar hadn't played a game until five games ago and click...the powerplay is back while he personally picks up two goals and two assists.

Gill is a UFA at the end of the season, clearly not worth re-signing and Eaton is overpaid at $2 million per season through next season. I believe we're stuck with them unless Shero can earn his $$. Which brings me back to Whitney, I wonder what we can get for him. With the deadline approaching fast, I'm curious...Whitney at age 26, offensive skills and trade value could be an end to justify the means.

Think about it, Gonchar is locked up through next season (and should be deemed untouchable by the franchise), Letang and Goligoski showed they can contribute on offense and a young Alex Grant (6' 2", 185) is developing.We have getting points from the defense covered.

We have the defenseman who is blue collar that no one knows outside of your fanbase but always seems to be resigned in Rob Scuderi. 

We need more nasty and intimidating defenseman (all due respect to Orpik, you hit but you don't toe the line). Youngsters Carl Sneep (6' 4", 210) and Brian Strait (6' 0", 200) probably won't be entering the Penguins system until the new Arena opens, should I dare suggest what the asking price for Mike Komisarek, Ryan Suter (24 years old) or Jack Johnson (22 years old) would be?

Would a team like the Kings (Johnson) or Predators (Suter) be willing to let go of the young, nasty defenseman for a defenseman only a few years older that is entering his prime to anchor their power-play. Either would come to the Penguins and save them $500,000 to $600,000 a year, depending on which one we could land.

 Suter comes from nasty defenseman heritage, his father Gary spent many a year battering the leagues top players while contributing offensively. 

Johnson, well...ask Sidney...why you say?

Good old Jack used to be the deterrent for people who chose to err on the side of messing with Crosby in Juniors. Crosby knows firsthand the nastiness that would come, as well as history and friendship. Oh yeah, and both play in the Western Conference where we'd only have to worry about Whitney's revenge twice a year.

Mike Komisarek on the other hand is more of a gamble. He plays in the East with the Canadiens, is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season (looking to increase on his $1.7 million salary) and is a year older than Whitney. On top of that, would either team be willing to deal to each other while fighting each other for one of the final play-off spots?

That aside, it's worth a look. What's wrong with asking about a 6' 5", 240 lb. defenseman who is not afraid to use that size.

No matter which one the Pens could acquire it would be a positive welcome, maybe to sweeten the pot throw in either Gill or Eaton...or both.