Despite the announcement that Sidney Crosby is going back to cautious mode in his recovery from concussion-like symptoms, the Pittsburgh Penguins figure to be the subject of some trade discussion as we head in to the second half of the NHL season.
Even if Crosby was in perfect health, Jordan Staal and Evgeni Malkin would not have been among the trade discussions.
If you are looking for unrealistic blockbusters, this probably is not your article.
What this article is about, is finding some small deals that seem possible. These are not based on anything more than looking at the Penguins strength and looking to find a good match.
That might not be super exciting for you if you believe the Penguins were ever going to trade Jordan Staal or somehow could magically create the cap space for Jarome Iginla. If you are based in reality, this could give you an idea of the type of trade the Penguins could look to make.
According to capgeek.com, the Penguins basically have $0 in cap space. That complicates any potential deal, since they will need to remove payroll from the roster—as long as they plan on Sid returning during the regular season.
Each slide in the article will feature realistic pieces that the Penguins would consider moving. That does not mean they will be moved, nor will I attempt to figure out what they get in return.
Most likely the team would go after wingers. Not the big splash types, but someone that could click and make a late impact like Bill Guerin.
If you have anyone that you think the Penguins would deal, or that they should look to acquire, leave a comment and we can see how it looks.
The Penguins will have an extra fourth-round draft pick in the 2012 draft courtesy of the Mark Letestu to Columbus trade. In the 2013 draft, they have the full compliment of picks.
Draft picks figure to be one of the greatest value boosters the Penguins have, and they are willing to send to another team. Sure they would be nice to keep, but for the right player a pick could be sent the other way.
While the deal did not work out, the Penguins made a move like this at the 2011 deadline: They traded a conditional pick for Alexei Kovalev.
The better the team did with Kovalev, the higher the pick would be. Any team willing to make a trade like this at the 2012 deadline could find the Penguins a willing partner.
At 22, Eric Tangradi is likely one of the Penguins top prospects at forward. The problem is, his stock seems to be falling.
He has had some shots at the NHL level, but it has not worked out to date. There is a pretty good chance he will be back at some point in the near future if the injury train continues to roll.
Many teams may be weary of Tangradi because of his skating. There is a chance that an NHL team will still see what the Penguins did when they acquired him from Anaheim.
The upside to Tangradi is his size, possible net presence and—if it develops—the scoring ability around the net.
It is not very likely, but depending on the team and the deal, Brent Johnson could be involved. The only reason: if the team is looking for cap space to come off the books after this season.
Johnson has one year left on his deal, but he has not had as strong of a season as he did the prior year.
The Penguins would have to make a deal that they strongly wanted to move Johnson, since he is the only insurance policy against an injury to Marc-Andre Fleury—there are no other goalies with experience in the system.
Paul Martin had a rough stretch earlier this season, but he seems to be steadying once again. His name often comes up in fantasy trade scenarios among the fanbase.
Many of us believe the team could get more for the $5 million per year cap hit. That is not saying that Paul Martin is a bad hockey player, but many think that it is just too much to pay for him.
Not surprisingly, one of the main reasons Paul Martin will probably not be traded is his contract. It's hard to believe that a team would willingly take on three more seasons and $15 million.
That being said, Paul Martin is probably the second-most movable piece from the current roster. He does have value as a steady defenseman.
Defense is also the one position that the Penguins could replace fairly easily long term. The amount of depth the team has on defense when healthy is by far the team's strength when it comes to potential trades.
While not very likely, the team should certainly consider a deal that involves Martin.
If you are saying, "I don't know if we should trade Matt Niskanen," please take a moment to think about that. I am not suggesting you are wrong, for the record.
What a difference a year makes. We all saw the struggles that Niskanen had last season. Some of us were more civil about it than others, but the fact is out of seven defenseman, he clearly deserved to be the No. 7.
Strangely, he seemed to get plenty of playing time. The coaching staff wanted to work with this guy, hoping to turn him in to the defenseman the Dallas Stars thought he could be.
We have gotten a glimpse of what he can be this season. The question becomes whether or not he can keep it up.
You could argue that the value for Niskanen may never be higher. Even if he is dealt, the Penguins are very happy with the Alex Goligoski trade, since they are getting incredible play out of James Neal.
Within the current roster, Niskanen is the most likely to be moved in my opinion. He makes a modest $1.5 million and is a restricted free agent after the season.
Whether or not Niskanen is moved remains to be seen. To be honest, I am not convinced the Penguins will look to subtract anyone from their roster.
The Pittsburgh Penguins probably will want to add only a small piece or two as they head in to the playoffs. I know that is not exciting or Internet buzz-worthy, but it seems the most likely course of action for Ray Shero.
That is not a bad thing, with or without Crosby.
If you are interested in further coverage from Ernest, follow him on Twitter @shootinthepuck.