Do The Pens Need Anything Other Than An Elite Defenseman?

Right on schedule the NHL trade deadline is here so naturally everyone wants to concoct numerous different trade hypotheticals to get their dream player. We all froth at getting our team better, or at least have a fun new piece to look at, but is it an absolute necessity for the Pittsburgh Penguins? The pressure to make a deal by the fans trade grows larger than the ceiling at PPG Paints Arena. Recent injury to Trevor Daley and Kris Letang changes this a little.

There is a difference though between teams that NEED to make a trade and those who WANT to make 1. The Penguins do not need to add anyone at least offensively and shouldn’t be inclined to trade a player on their roster just for making trade’s sake. I’m a firm believer in if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The Pens have practically all the same players from last season’s cup championship team, so why is there such a need to change? If the price is right and the Pens don’t have to give up a wild amount of players for a guy they really want then sure, make a move, but there shouldn’t be a looming precedent to do so.

I hear that the Penguins want forwards Matt Duchene or Gabriel Landeskogg from the underperforming Colorado Avalanche, but why? The Penguins have 1 of the best scoring teams in the league, offense has never been a problem, they have enough to get that done. You’re gonna get rid of young prospects and team chemistry so you can score 5 goals a game instead of 4? Doesn’t seem that much of an advantage to add a guy like Duchene if you have to give up so much. He’s under contract for a few more years so it would almost be better to grab him when he’s more absolutely needed.

Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk has come up in recent days again because of the lingering injuries to defensemen. For sure the Pens should at least take a look at what it would cost to get him despite already grabbing Ron Hainsey, even if it were Marc Andre Fleury, but theres a high chance Shattenkirk is a rental. It is no guarantee he would resign with the Pens especially with other top defensemen they would want to keep around. I would rather light the fire under the young 1st year or minor league call up players and see how they do in a 3rd line role, motivation and survival of the fittest plays a lot into production. You even saw Cameron Gaunce with some playing time and Chad Ruhwedel get a goal in the outdoor game.

Now the flip side of this coin is if you look at the mid season acquisitions the team made last year. 1st off before they even got to the deadline the Penguins received Carl Hagelin, then during deadline time the Pens traded for the services of defensemen Trevor Daley and then Justin Schultz. All of these guys had a significant positive impact for the team. You can also look at the call ups from the AHL roster as another great move. Looking at those transactions you may think that they should definitely get new faces again, but don’t go too fast. Each season is different, the Penguins as a team are much better and way less desperate than they were a year ago at this time. Back then, it was either change this team or don’t make the playoffs, this year now, it’s keep the team and have a great chance at winning the cup or get a new player or 2 and have maybe slightly better percentages to win that same trophy. It’s apples and oranges comparing the teams pre trade deadline.

If trading for Shattenkirk meant keeping him away from the Washington Capitals, then you know what? I’m all for it. General Manager Jim Rutherford is a smart man who will do the best decision out there, I mean, he does have a nice track record so far in Pittsburgh. Claiming another average defenseman doesn’t do much for the team because of the in company development depth they can just throw there, it only makes the Pens lose more assets. Either get an elite player or don’t  trade at all. Definitely the right defenseman would be a lovely thing to have but as I’ve said at other times the season, the biggest focus on the Penguins for playoff time is keeping the team healthy. Whether it’s Connor Sheary or Olli Maatta, just get them there come April. Until then trade at your own discretion, offense if it’s only an unbelievable deal.

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