Last week, Pens GM Ray Shero was reportedly in attendance for the Colorado Avalanche/Minnesota Wild game. His interest in what is otherwise seen as an uninteresting game for the Pittsburgh Penguins, is purely a sign of scouting for a possible trade.
The Penguins are rumored to be interested in Devin Setoguchi, as reported by Rob Rossi a few weeks ago, as well as Matt Cullen. Setoguchi is seen as a potential suitor for Sidney Crosby's wing while Cullen is nothing more than a 36 year old third line player, at best.
If acquired, could these players be the next Chris Kunitz and Bill Guerin? Or will they be more like the next Alex Ponikarovsky and Jordan Leopold?
It shouldn't matter; at least not now.
The Pittsburgh Penguins would be better off holding onto those trade proposals for later in the season, which they could do. Currently, this team is first in the Eastern Conference, second in the East in goals scored, and tied for second highest in goal differential in the league.
As for finding a winger for Crosby, he seems to be doing well with Pascal Dupuis and Chris Kunitz on his line. Crosby is second in the league in points and tied for first in assists. Meanwhile, Dupuis and Kunitz have combined for 13 goals and are both in the top 30 in goals scored. Crosby and Kunitz are also tied for third in the league in plus-minus with a rating of +11.
Finding a marquee player for Crosby could move Kunitz back to the second line, which would increase Malkin's productivity in 5 on 5 situations. Of his 18 points on the season, 11 have come on the power play. In the same vein, seven of James Neal's eleven goals have come during the man advantage.
It would be wise to make a move to improve the top six forwards. A no-brainer, really.
But the Penguins need to wait until the pack shows some separation. Currently, every team not named the Blue Jackets is within six points of a playoff spot. With just one third of the season completed, most teams believe they can reach the playoff. Thus, parting with goal-scorers for prospects wont happen unless a team overpays.
If you were the GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs, would you trade Nikolai Kulemin for a first round pick and Derek Pouliot? (Brian Burke if you're reading this, go against your instinct). Of course not. Not when your team is one point from the top spot in the Northeast.
The same logic goes for the Minnesota Wild who are one point out of a playoff spot, despite scoring the second fewest goals in the league. Nope, no reason to give up a perennial 20-goal scorer on a team like that. Especially when you just paid a ton of money to Ryan Suter and Zach Parise in the offseason, showing a commitment to win now.
Want Jarome Iginla to come to Pittsburgh? Tough. Iginla has already stated he wants to stay in Calgary and his GM doesn't want to give him up. Then again, if Ray Shero makes a call a month and a half from now, when the Flames are 20 points out, GM Jay Feaster may be listening to offers. Iginla's mind could change too when he gets tired of losing and sees a former Gold-medal teammate racing his way to the playoffs.
Last season, Ray Shero stuck with his team at the deadline instead of making a trade. He believed the addition of Sidney Crosby was the equivalent of pulling off a huge steal. In the end, he was wrong. This time around, it is fully expected the Penguins will beef up their top six forwards and maybe their depth on the backend.
But now is not the time.