We are days away from the most exciting time of the hockey season, the trade deadline. I look forward to it on a yearly basis, checking the web incessantly throughout the day until the 3:00pm deadline. Who will end up where, is your team buying or selling, maybe they are looking for some pieces for next year. Either way it is an exciting time of year. In Pittsburgh, we just saw the 15th anniversary of one of the most exciting trades in team history, a trade the clinched a Stanley Cup for the Penguins. On March 4, 1991, General Manager Craig Patrick sent fan favorite John Cullen, along with Zarley Zalapski, and Jeff Parker to the Hartford Whalers for Ron Francis, Ulf Samuelsson, and Grant Jennings. The trade will go down as one of, if not the best trade in franchise history. It isn't every deadline that you can acquire one of the best all around players of all time as he is entering his prime. Unfortunately for Patrick, he hasn't been able to come close to a move of that stature since.
The past few years have seen the Penguins largely as sellers come the deadline. We have watched the likes of Martin Straka, Alexi Kovalev, Jaromir Jagr, and Darius Kasparaitis move in exchange for the ever popular "picks and prospects." Each time GM Patrick has tried to lure us into believing that some opposing GM who had just acquired a Pens superstar has been fleeced. He actually said that his scouting department was jumping up and down after they moved Jagr to Washington for Kris Beech, Ross Lupaschuk and Michel Sivek. Beech is the only left in North America and he is in the Nashville system. Ultimately the past 5 to 6 trade deadlines here in Pittsburgh have been a bust. Which brings us to this year...
Patrick will hit the deadline with a couple of assets this year. He can actually look to pick up a couple pieces for the future, since it will not be a straight salary dump situation. Mark Recchi has been the teams best player as of late, posting 7 goals and 6 assists in his last 10 games. John LeClair has also looked more like his old self over the past 10 games, posting 4 goals and 5 assists. Teams such as the Flyers, Montreal, Ottawa and Boston may be interested.
There are a couple rumors floating around Pittsburgh talk radio. One has the Penguins swinging a deal with the Calgary Flames to acquire Jordan Leopold. The thinking in that situation is that the Flames have a little depth on the blue line with the emergence of Dion Phaneuf. The Penguins could really use a steady d-man like Leopold. The other has the Pens trying to get Pittsburgh's own RJ Umberger. Both trades would see Mark Recchi and Ryan Malone going the other way. Not sure I could actually see either going down, but it is always fun to speculate!
The roster probably will not be radically different come Thursday at 3:01pm, but I do think that Mark Recchi, John LeClair, Eric Cairns, Cory Cross and maybe Rick Jackman could be moved. At that point some decisions will be made on who to reassign to the WBS Penguins for their Calder Cup run. The team has already said that they will not risk losing any player, so that means no one who must clear waivers will be reassigned. Eric Christensen has already been sent back to WBS and probably will remain there for the duration, barring any injuries to the parent team.Are Recchi and the Pens in Cahoots?
Are the Penguins planning to move Mark Recchi to get something for the future and then re-sign him in the off season as a free agent? I think it is a definite possibility. Recchi's deal has a two way option: a team option that would pay him $2,228,000 for the 06-07 season, and a player option that would pay$760,000. I cannot see either being activated. Recchi could command much more than $760,000 on the open market and there aren't many teams that would want to pay a 38 year old $2,228,000. If neither option is activated, Recchi would become a free agent, thus clearing the way to come back to the Penguins. A conspiracy theory, yes, but definitely a possibility.Malkin Madness is Running Wild!
The Penguins have begun to tout the arrival of their next big thing with teasers in game on the jumbotron. Showing clips of the youngster's greatness during the Olympics. I personally cannot wait for this young man to make it to Pittsburgh. There is supposedly an agreement with his Super League team that would allow him to come to the NHL next season, but it will probably cost the Penguins a chunk of change with no transfer agreement. Malkin looks to be the total package. He has great vision on the ice, nice hands, can score as well as set up his wingers, and play defense as well as anyone on the ice. Some of what he did in the Olympics reminded me of a young Mario Lemieux. I am not saying that he will be as good, but he definitely has that monster reach and deceptive speed. He also seems to have perfect the point pass pick off move that could send him on many a short handed breakaway. In the Bronze medal game against the Czechs, Malkin created several chances for himself with just this move. He didn't seem to be moving all that fast as he skated through the neutral zone, but no one seemed to be able to catch him. Between, Sidney Crosby, Marc Andre Fleury, Ryan Whitney, and Mr. Malkin, the Penguins future is very bright!Congrats AO - Alexander the Great Nets 40 and 41
Alexander Ovechkin became the first rookie to net 40 plus goals. Though I am not enamored with this young man, you cannot deny what he has accomplished this season. He is a very exciting young player and is definitely going to be a great ambassador for the game. Unfortunately a lot of the greats from the 80's and 90's have moved on, but I think that the game will be in great hands moving into the future. AO, Sid, Dion, and gold medal winner Henni Lundqvist will lead the way!