Penguins should be buyers this year

Penguins should be buyers this year

The Pittsburgh Penguins are currently in first place in the Atlantic Division, and in second place in the Eastern Conference behind the Montreal Canadiens by only one point.  The Penguins are playing good hockey and you might think that a trade is not necessary, but every team can get better.  With the trade deadline only a little over a month away, teams are starting to decide whether or not they are going to make a move.  Very few teams see themselves as sellers this year since the season is short and anything can happen.  But you know one thing is for sure, General Manager Ray Shero is making plenty of phone calls to see what’s available.  So here is a list of players that might intrigue Shero into making a move.

Jarome Iginla is the face of the Calgary Flames and is the captain of the team, but they are looking to rebuild and get younger players.  Iginla is a free agent after this season so the Flames might be willing to trade him just so they get something for him.  So far this season Iginla has scored only one goal and recorded eight assists.  So he isn’t having a typical season for him but put him beside Crosby or Malkin and there’s a good chance that goal total steadily increases.  Don’t forget he played alongside Crosby in the Olympics a few years ago.

Ryane Clowe of the San Jose Sharks is a name that keeps coming up in relation to the Penguins.  Shero really likes the tenacity that this guy plays with, and would like to have a power forward such as Clowe in the top six.  Clow is also a rental player, who becomes an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.  The Sharks aren’t sellers seeing as they are one of the top teams in the Western Conference but they might be looking to dump salary with the cap being lowered next year.  Clowe is another player who usually puts up good numbers but is off to a slow start with no goals and only six assists in 14 games played this year.

Nikolai Kulemin is a player that could end up in a Penguin sweater sooner or later.  Kulemin was a line mate of Evgeni Malkin when the two were playing back in Russia during the lockout.  Malkin would love to play with him again in the NHL, and if the price is right the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Pens could make a deal.  This would give Malkin a second winger that he has chemistry with which is good for Penguin’s fans.  On the season Kulemin has one goal and eight assists.

Devin Setoguchi is another name that you hear about being connected to the Penguins.  He is a quick right winger that has scored 30 goals before at the NHL level; which was when he played alongside Joe Thorton in San Jose.  Now Setoguchi is a member of the Minnesota Wild, and right now they look to be on the outside looking in when it comes to a playoff spot.  So they could potentially become sellers and Setoguchi is a guy that Shero has kept his eye on.  Just last week Shero himself went to the Minnesota and Colorado game to do some scouting.  No one is sure as to whom he went to see but there is a chance that it was Setoguchi.  In 2013, Setoguchi has two goals and three assists in this season.

Some speculate that the Shero was there to see Setoguchi’s teammate Matt Cullen.  Cullen would be a guy who would come in and play on the third line most likely depending on how Beau Bennett plays during his time with the Penguins.  Cullen can play either wing or center and seeing as the Penguins already have three above-average centers he will most likely play the wing.  He is a gritty guy who is good on the forecheck and still has some speed for being 36 years old.

It seems to be a theme here with the Minnesota Wild because another player that Ray Shero likes is Cal Clutterbuck who just so happens to play for the Wild as well.  Clutterbuck is a strong, physical guy who likes to get into the dirty areas and battle for pucks.  Clutterbuck is another one of those third line type of guys who can possess the puck and get offensive zone time.  So far on the season he has two goals and one assist.

Defense is an area that the Penguins aren’t looking into at the moment with the growth of their young guys, and in fact they are top ten in goals allowed.  Simon Despres and Robert Bortuzzo have really been two surprises so far this season and have played exceptionally well.  Yes, they have made some mistakes but that come with being young and getting their first chance at constant NHL ice time.

Despres has been good with getting the puck out of the zone and joining the rush when the opportunity presents itself, like it did when he scored on a breakaway after exiting the penalty box against the Rangers.  Bortuzzo has been the physical presence the Penguins need him to be, and he has shown that he won’t back down from anybody.   In the few games Bortuzzo has played in he has engaged many players, and had several big hits, and he has even gotten into a fight.  So as of right now there is not much to speculate about on the defensive end.

Photo Credits: Getty Images

 

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Jeff Held

Jeff is a freelance writer for Pittsburgh Sporting News.

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