By John Toperzer
For all the talk about Paulina Gretzky, I thought I’d offer a lighter look at @PaulinaGretzky and her father Wayne. I operated a sports card stand at Century III Mall in Pittsburgh for five years in the early 1990s and remember this card. Things have changed for Ms. Gretzky.
Now on to some Western Conference rosters with players who could be attractive Pittsburgh targets or have been rumored to be on the trading block.
Sven Baertschi: He played for the Portland Winterhawks when the Pens drafted Joe Morrow and Derrick Pouliot, so the Pens’ scouts are really familiar with him. Rookie Sean Monahan has gotten the press (and rightly so) for Calgary and Baertschi hasn’t set the NHL on fire. The Flames probably won’t trade him, but it’s worth an inquiry. Baertschi is a talented offensive weapon.
Paul Stastny: His cap hit is $6.6 million but he’ll be a free agent after 2013-14. Pens coach Dan Bylsma helped pick for the U.S. Olympic team. The Avs are stacked with young talent and could deal Stastny for 50 cents on the dollar by the deadline. He’s a center, so the Pens would have to figure something out with him.
P.A. Parenteau: Another player Colorado could move and not miss a beat. I’ve discounted limited or no-movement trade clauses, thinking that any player in his right mind would approve a trade to Pittsburgh. Parenteau could be a point-per-game guy with the Pens. His contract goes through 2015-16 at an AAV of $4 million.
Max Talbot: Talbot could take over the dressing room with Pascal Dupuis out. He’s got a $1.75 million AAV through 2015-16. Injuries curtailed Talbot’s value toward the end of his time in Pittsburgh. Since leaving the Pens, here are his playing numbers. Talbot played 81 of 82 games in 2011-12, 35 of 82 in 2012-13, and 40 of about 40 games split between the Flyers and Avs in 2013-14.
Alex Chiasson: The 23-year-old Boston University product has a goal-scoring touch and good size at 6-foot-3, 210 pounds. Chiasson’s under contract through 2014-15 at $866K. Dallas could ship him with the emergence of the Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn and Valerie Nichushkin line.
Radek Faksa: Faksa is in the Stars’ system. The 19-year-old is playing for the Czech Republic in the World Juniors. The 2012 first-round pick has skated for OHL Kitchener and is North-American trained, something that counts for something in Pittsburgh’s organization. He also has good size at 6-foot-3, 210 pounds and has a goal-scoring touch. Of course, he’s further away, but what’s wrong with trading a defenseman with potential for a forward with potential? Nothing.
Sam Gagner: He’s a center, so the fit might be difficult. He’s locked up at $4.8 million AAV through 2015-16. Gagner’s having an injury-filled season with five goals and 14 points in 30 games. I don’t see a fit, but the Oilers have to move him or change up the team’s makeup at some point.
Jordan Eberle: The Pens would have to have a lot of faith to take on Eberle’s $6.00 million AAV through 2018-19. Sending Kris Letang and his $7.25 million AAV for the next eight seasons starting after 2013-14 would actually save money from Pittsburgh’s perspective. Edmonton probably needs a defensive-oriented blueliner more than Letang, with Justin Schultz already there – though Schultz hasn’t exactly lit the league on fire in 2013-14 and is a restricted free agent after the season.
Dwight King: The Los Angeles Kings forward has great size at 6-foot-4, 232 pounds. King has 60 hits and 19 points (10G, 9A) in 42 games. He’ll be a free agent after 2013-14 and is making $750K. He’s the type of third-line, versatile player that would fit with the Pens without ruffling many feathers.
Paul Gaustad: If Pittsburgh wants to pay $3.2 million through 2015-16 for a strong faceoff man, Gaustad is someone who could do that. The team was reportedly interested in him with Buffalo. Sounds like a high price to pay but Penguins GM Ray Shero loves to deal with his old stomping grounds, including Nashville.
Colin Wilson & Craig Smith: Both Nashville forwards will make $2 million through 2014-15 and have offense which could help Pittsburgh. They’re relatively cheap but inconsistent, though the Pens have better offensive talent to surround them.
Tommy Wingels: This is one of my favorite trade targets. Wingels earned his wing spot for San Jose. At 25, he’s past the point of being a prospect. He’ll make $775K in 2013-14 and then become a restricted free agent. Wingels hits people (109 hits) and has a strong net-front presence even as a 6-foot, 195 pounder. He has nine goals and 22 points in 39 games. I could see Wingels coming to Pittsburgh as part of a three-or-four player deal.
Patrick Marleau & Logan Couture: Neither player figures to get moved by the Sharks unless the team decides it needs a stud defenseman to replace the aging Dan Boyle. If that happens and Kris Letang’s name comes up, then the above two guys come into play. Marleau would be more likely to be traded, as his contract ends after the season and his cap hit is higher ($6.9 million). Couture is a player the team will likely build around as one of the bright NHL stars – though he still has some maturing to do (see comments re: Marc-Andre Fleury). Couture is locked up through 2018-19. It would take Letang and then some to get Couture, but Marleau, Wingels and another player or perhaps a first-round draft pick might do it for Letang.
Chris Stewart: He’s not one of my favorite target, but with a $4.15 million AAV through 2014-15, he’s a reasonably-priced target. Stewart runs hot and cold. The winger is feisty, better than a half-point per game player and can score goals.
Blake Wheeler, Evander Kane & Andrew Ladd: Ladd has the shortest yet cheapest contract of the three; $4.4 million through 2015-16. Kane’s hit, $5.2 million AAV though 2017-18, and Wheeler’s $5.6 million through 2018-19, are longer than Shero might like to have, giving him less flexibility with the rest of the roster. Ladd is the get here, but Winnipeg is looking for younger, cheaper offense in return. Pittsburgh isn’t the place for offensive prospects and the Pens wouldn’t and shouldn’t trade an Olli Maatta to the Jets for two-plus seasons of a one-dimensional player like Ladd. If anything, the Pens should target Mark Scheifele in a trade with Winnipeg, though he probably wouldn’t be trade except for elite offense.