The NHL Off-season is in full swing and in this article I go over a few players I believe the Penguins NEED to part with as well as quite a few players the Penguins should pursue (not necessarily acquire) to better the team for this upcoming year.
The Penguins do not have many valuable pieces available to move in attempts to acquire players to fill areas of need. Because of this the best course would be to make limited trades to help clear cap space and if possible bring in a player or two who can help fill one or more of the many holes left on the roster.
GM Jim Rutherford has stated that he has no intention of utilizing any of his buy-outs this summer which means the Penguins either believe Scuderi is still an asset to them or they feel trading him will be an easier task then many of the fans do. We all should be hoping it is the latter as it’s time to allow more of the youth movement to take effect on the Penguins blue-line. And while I believe Pittsburgh still needs one more veteran presence on the back end, Scuderi is not that man, nor should he be kept around in case they cannot acquire someone better.
Scuderi is no longer “The Piece” and its time everyone realized this. No idea who would want Scuderi’s services, but im sure there is a team in need of a little veteran presence with two cup rings under his belt.
I feel the time for Kunitz in a Penguins uniform has come to an end. HIs play has diminished over the last two seasons (injuries or not) and let’s not forget how there were many rumors stating Crosby only wanted to play with Kunitz on his wing. Whether there is any truth to those rumors or not, that cannot be good for the morale of the other better suited wingers on the roster.
Depending on how the Penguins value Kunitz, moving him may not be as difficult as one would think. There are quite a few teams out there that I am sure would move a 3rd round pick or even a bottom six roster player to acquire his leadership, experience and talents. Teams that come to mind, Edmonton, Buffalo (His buddy Bylsma may entice him here), New Jersey and Florida.
The question though isn’t what you as a fan value him at, its what the other teams do. So where do you think he would land if he was moved?
It’s time to move on from the Brandon Sutter experiment. If you are one of those who believe the Penguins got exactly what they expected in Sutter when they traded away Jordan Staal, you are sadly mistaken.
Yes Sutter was never expected to be as strong of a players as Staal was, but the expectation was that Sutter would continue to develop into something more than he was the day they acquired him. Unfortunately that has not happened.
While he hasn’t worked out completely for the Pens, he is a player many teams in need of Center help are interested in acquiring which means Rutherford should use him as bait in attempts to bring in a player to fill one of their holes in the top six.
Teams to keep an eye on – Toronto, Buffalo, New Jersey, Nashville, Vancouver, Edmonton
There are quite a few Free Agents on the market starting on July 1st, unfortunately not all of them are quality players or even players that would fill a need on the Penguins roster. While I haven’t gone in depth on what the Penguins need completely, below are players I feel should be looked at and pursued to hopefully begin the process in fixing the issues on the Roster.
Keep in mind many of these players are not GAME CHANGERS and I do realize there is a risk with nearly all of them. But f they could help fill areas of need why not take the chance?
Brad Richards (UFA)
Richards would be a player sought after if the Penguins move Sutter. He will probably demand $3.5-$4.5 million, but make no mistake, he would absolutely be an upgrade over Sutter as he can still produce and be effective in the right role. What makes this even more intriguing is that he would simply be a short term fix until Oskar Sundqvist was able to adjust his game to the NHL.
Brandon Saad (RFA)
The Pittsburgh native has had quite the start to his NHL career in the windy city. And while acquiring him as an RFA may be next to impossible that should deter the Penguins from seeing what it may take to pry him from the Blackhawks.
Antoine Vermette (UFA)
While Vermette may have struggled after being traded to Chicago last season he could easily be a nice replacement of Brandon Sutter if Richards is unable to be acquired.
Justin Williams (UFA)
According to reports last season Williams was almost acquired by the Penguins in a trade involving Paul Martin going to L.A. Obviously there is some interest by the Penguins in him so do not be shocked if an offer is made to him. Though he is a bit older (33) then what the Penguins should be looking for, he is a player that would do well in the Black and Gold.
Chris Stewart (UFA)
This would be a big gamble. If Rutherford could convince him to take a 1-2 year low costing deal to see how he plays along side Crosby or Malkin I think it would be a risk worth taking. He has the ability to put the puck in the net. I believe he has struggled because he hasn’t had a strong center or linemate in quite some time. While he was on the Penguins radar over the past couple seasons, he may no longer be a player they would consider. But with the market as bare as it is with quality wingers taking a gamble on someone like Stewart could pay off HUGE.
Daniel Briere (UFA)
Another gamble here, but his possession numbers far exceed that of what Sutter ever had and he always has had a knack for showing up in the playoffs in a big way. Briere wouldn’t be my first choice to replace Sutter but he isn’t my last either, At the right price why not?
RJ Umberger (Trade)
Unfortunately for the Penguins, Umberger is part of the Flyers organization which means a trade to acquire him would be unlikely. I think the Penguins should inquire for sure though. He is a strong player in the offensive zone and would be a welcomed addition to the bottom six.
Phil Kessel (Trade)
Leaving the big fish for last, Toronto is in another weird transitional phase and Kessel may be finding himself in a new uniform come this fall. As far as we are aware, the Penguins are on his list of teams he would accept a trade to and Pittsburgh is the team with the most cap space available. If Toronto retains some salary (which they undoubtedly will need to) This wouldn’t be a terrible idea, but what would the cost be in acquiring him?
So there you have it, a few things the Penguins should consider during this off-season. Who do you think should be moved? Who do you think the Penguins should pursue?
– Robert Slavinsky