Breaking Down Each New Arrival's Future with the Pittsburgh Penguins
As the NHL trade deadline closed in, general manager Ray Shero and the Pittsburgh Penguins made an impact. The blockbuster acquisitions of Jarome Iginla and Brenden Morrow, among others, make one thing clear—Shero is all in.
Of course, every team’s ultimate goal is to win the Stanley Cup. Depending on their position in the standings, teams may decide to work towards building a championship team in the future.
Not the Penguins. They have a deep pool of prospects and plenty of supplementary draft picks that they used to build a championship team now.
With the likes of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Marc-Andre Fleury—all players who have already hoisted the Cup—the Penguins were already poised for a successful postseason campaign.
Some of the new Penguins might not be around come summertime, while others could be around for a while. Let’s break down each new player’s future in Pittsburgh.
The now former Dallas Stars captain was the first headline-grabbing move made by Shero. He was brought in to add depth to the third line. While he only scored six goals during his 29 games with the Stars, he’s still a scoring threat.
His hard-hitting, 210-pound frame is perfect for grinding and laying strong hits on the opponents. With strong forwards Tyler Kennedy and Matt Cooke alongside him, the Penguins’ third line is adept at wearing down the opposition—something that will come in handy during a playoff series.
That’s the caveat in this deal—Morrow will likely walk as an unrestricted free agent this summer. He’ll be a valuable third-line winger for the time being, but he’s only a deadline rental player.
Because of their massive superstar contracts and the decreasing salary cap, the Penguins might not have the option of re-signing Morrow. A best-case scenario would be dealing him at the NHL draft.
Even so, it looks like Morrow has a good chance to win his first Stanley Cup.
Douglas Murray was acquired from the San Jose Sharks to add some muscle to the squad. At 6’3” and 240 pounds, Murray is now the most physical presence on the ice for the Penguins.
It’s a little harder to see why the Penguins went after him, though. Other than strength, Murray doesn’t bring much to the table. He has no offensive impact, and his lack of speed is often costly to his defensive performance.
Murray has found a niche on the penalty kill throughout his career. He’s an intimidating player and has a large frame for blocking shots.
The big defenseman is currently playing alongside Matt Niskanen on the second defensive pairing. When Kris Letang and Paul Martin come back from injury, Murray might struggle to break the Penguins roster.
There’s little doubt Murray will be around after his contract expires. He currently comes with a $2.5 million cap hit. With the defensive prospects waiting to make their debut in Pittsburgh, the Penguins won’t be in need of Murray’s services following the playoffs.
Nevertheless, Iginla will be a difference maker for the Penguins. In addition to his skill set, he brings plenty of intangibles to the table. Most notably, his leadership in the locker room will be appreciated during Crosby’s recovery.
His offensive production will also be valued in Crosby’s absence. Iginla’s resume boasts one Art Ross Trophy and two Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophies.
He’s recently assumed the role of first-line left winger—skating alongside the dangerous duo of Malkin and James Neal. With time, their chemistry will continue to grow. As that happens, the Penguins should emerge from the post-winning streak rut they’ve found themselves in.
Iginla’s future in Pittsburgh is murky. His cap hit is currently $7 million—much more than the Penguins can afford in a season when the cap drops by $5.9 million. That’s not even factoring in the pay raise he’ll likely require to re-sign. In a market where the next-best UFA winger is either Morrow or Minnesota’s Pierre-Marc Bouchard, the Penguins likely won’t be able to pay Iginla.
Jussi Jokinen will be rejoining Brandon Sutter as the Penguins’ last acquisition of the season. Shero and company nabbed him from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for a conditional 2013 sixth- or seventh-round draft pick.
Even though Jokinen hasn’t lived up to expectations in this shortened season, this was a steal. He posted a career-high 65 points in 81 games in 2009-10. Playing third-line minutes, it’s reasonable to expect as many as 40 points from Jokinen.
The best part about this deal is that Jokinen isn’t a rental player. Barring a trade, he’ll be a Penguin through at least 2014. And if he can produce at a high level in a depth role, he’ll be well worth the $3 million price tag.