Should the Penguins make a Trade?
The NHL season is just one week in and the Penguins are 2-2-0 as I write this article, but I got to thinking, with the rumblings that Shero started looking for a winger late last week and the inconsistent play in the last two games, is it imperative the Penguins make a move now, or later?
It’s obvious the Line combinations are sketchy at best, and its apparent that Malkin is starting to get aggravated because of this. Crosby continues to keep his mouth shut and play the best Hockey he can, but you know he is itching to get a winger that is skilled like Neal to play along with. It is hard to tell if the inconsistent play is due to coaching, execution, or lack of chemistry, but it is easy to tell something needs to change, and soon. The shortened season is not as forgiving as a regular 82 game schedule, if you stumble for too long it’s very hard to catch up.
Adjustments need to be made to the line up and the coaching staff needs to stick with them through thick and thin. I do not believe the Tangradi experiment is over just yet, but he needs to play more than 6 minutes with Malkin, or why not try him with Crosby if you do not like his play with Geno? They could easily move Kunitz onto that second line, knowing it will be successful to give Tangradi a shot with Sid. It boils down to allowing players to develop chemistry, shuffling lines half way through a season to shake things up a bit works, but when players are still trying to get their feet wet and get used to a system, they need to get comfortable with who they are playing with.
Surprisingly the defense has been somewhat sound in the first four games, Martin has improved from his poor play of the last two seasons, and Niskanen has been playing to his potential and above. Being that the defense was the big question mark coming in to the season, it’s been a welcome surprise that they have done this well so far. A few complaints could be made though, the amount of times they are jumping up on the offensive attack has caused a few scoring chances for the opponents, and the long passes up the ice have created many turnovers in the neutral zone.
That all comes down to coaching and execution though. If this is how Bylsma wants the team to play, that’s great, but they need more practice and should simplify things a little and build up to the quick transition game that they obviously are trying to execute. As good as Letang is he will make mistakes from time to time, but the chances of mistakes goes up when he is constantly in the offensive zone not playing defense. He is a smart player, but tone him back a bit, defense first than offense.
Despres proved this year that he can hang with the big club, even if its only six to eight minutes a game ( you need to start off somewhere). He still has a ways to go before he is a guaranteed top two player, but you can absolutely see his potential. I would hate to see him go, but the NHL is running low on quality defenders and most any team would love to have him. He is most likely the piece that any team would require if we were to get anything of any value or skill. Tyler Kennedy is another player that could just as easily be sent to another team, but being in his final year of his current contract some teams may feel it isn’t worth the hassle. There are also some great prospects in the system such as Joe Morrow, Beau Bennett, and Brad Thiessen that could be moved.
My take is a trade will be made, but to determine if it will be sooner or later will be decided over the next two or three games. If the team can get back on track and make strides towards being the team they can be, then Shero will let things play out and make a move close to or on trade deadline on April 3. If the Pens continue to flounder and underachieve, do not be surprised if a move is made within a week or two.
If you are worried that acting hastily could harm the team, remember Shero has proven multiple times that he can move the right pieces to bring in quality players. Pascal Dupuis, Chris Kunitz, and James Neal have all played major roles on this team since being acquired. For each of them Shero gave up a few picks, Alex Goligoski, Ryan Whitney, and a few prospects that have not panned out in the NHL. If you ask me I trust what this man can do, and even though we have seen the likes of Ponikarovski and Kovalev come through due to moves he has made, the good moves completely out shine the poor moves made.
In Shero We Trust