The Pittsburgh Penguins became one of the biggest buyers this trade deadline when their top two forwards, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, went down with injuries.
GM Ray Shero’s first move was Alex Goligoski to Dallas for forwards James Neal and Matt Niskanen. In an ironic twist of fate, shortly after, the Penguins’ best defenseman Brooks Orpik is out for four to six weeks after blocking a shot.
Yesterday, Shero traded for Alexei Kovalev.
Now the Penguins have bolstered their offense some, but there’s still work to be done. Here are the top players that the Penguins should be targeting.
Since trading Alex Goligoski and losing Brooks Orpik for a month, the Pittsburgh Penguins now find themselves lacking defense.
John-Michael Liles is one of the top defensemen still on the market. His contract is up after next season, so the Penguins should look into this option.
Ales Hemsky is supposedly a name that the Pittsburgh Penguins were interested in.
His contract is up after next season, and he has an average cap hit of around $4 million.
He’s put up good numbers for a struggling Edmonton Oilers team this year; imagine what he could do on a team like the Penguins.
Shea Weber is on the last year of his contract. There is speculation that the Nashville Predators’ captain will be too expensive to stay in Nashville next year, so the Preds may be looking to make a trade.
The Penguins won’t be able to afford him next year either, but they could use him for the time being with Brooks Orpik out.
Plus, Weber is an offensive defenseman like Alex Goligoski, who they just traded away.
R.J. Umberger has this year and next left on his contract. He puts up points and makes big hits as well.
Plus, Umberger used to play for Atlantic Division rival Philadelphia Flyers, so he would be beneficial against them and in the division.
Tim Connolly could provide the Pittsburgh Penguins offense and some defense as well.
Connolly is on the last year of his contract, which is a plus for the Penguins, since they may not need him for more than this year.
The biggest downside is the other interest in Connolly around the league; the Penguins may have to sacrifice to get him.
When Evgeni Malkin went down with his knee injury, the Penguins lost a big, physical forward. It only makes sense to replace the void with another big forward.
Nik Antropov is a good option. Antropov’s cap hit is around $4 million a year; not too bad for what the Penguins need.
Plus, Antropov has a lot of talent that could be found with the right team.
Jarret Stoll is an excellent two-way forward. Stoll would provide the Penguins with both of the things they need: offense and defense.
Stoll has another year after this year left on his contract; not too bad for the Penguins.
Brad Richards may be more of a “should have targeted” than a “should target”. It is highly unlikely that the Pittsburgh Penguins and Dallas Stars would make another deal.
However, Richards is on the last year of his deal. The Penguins would not be committed to him after this season, and Richards would not be committed to them.
Jason Arnott’s name has been tossed around in trade rumors quite a bit. There has been significant interest in the forward.
The Pittsburgh Penguins should be interested as well. The Penguins are looking to acquire offense. They should look for offense that they will not be committed to long-term.
Next year (as long as everything goes as planned), the Penguins will get forwards Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin back. This means that Arnott, who will enter free agency after this year, is a great choice.
Devin Setoguchi is on a one-year deal with the San Jose Sharks for $1.8 million. That’s a good deal for the Pittsburgh Penguins: not committed to him for long and won’t take up too much cap space.
He could also be a bargain for years to come for the Penguins. Plus, his experience in the Western Conference would be very helpful for the Penguins in the playoffs.