Thursday, March 28, 2013

Pittsburgh Penguins Going All In With Recent Trades

By Jason Klau

Last night, I was out bowling with a few friends, enjoying a fun night, and a few beers. I remembered seeing earlier that a trade for Calgary Flames franchise face Jarome Iginla was imminent, so I decided to check some updates...

He was a healthy scratch for his team's game last night against the Colorado Avalanche. Coincidentally, two Boston Bruins prospects were healthy scratches for the Providence Bruins of the AHL. I took that as a sign to tell these friends, who I had told earlier that I thought the Penguins would nab Iginla, that it was in fact the Bruins who made the deal. EA Sports even posted an in-game NHL 13 picture of Iginla in a Boston jersey. But lo and behold, things would change.

Utilizing my epic capacity for owning technology, I opened up my iPad as I awoke in the morning. Recently, I started receiving push notifications from the NHL Game Center App, which I primarily use to watch highlights during classes I don't care about. The headline on my iPad stated that the Penguins has acquired Iginla. Quite the shocker. Especially for a Rangers fan who now has to deal with Iginla in the division.

This move will prove to be a big one for the Penguins. They have now set themselves up as the favorite for the cup. Chicago who?

This is the third important move the Penguins have made recently. First, the acquired Brendan Morrow, former captain of the Dallas Stars. They then managed to pry out veteran stay-at-home defenseman Douglas Murray out of San Jose. Now, the icing on the cake for a pre-trade deadline storm of moves for the Pens.

So, two captains and another veteran for Pittsburgh. Quite the additions.

Morrow started this season as the 14th of his career, all spent in Dallas. For Iginla, it was his 16th career season, also spent exclusively with his former team. And of course, like the other two, Murray spent the entire nine seasons of his NHL Career with the Sharks before the move.

These moves reflect one thing: It's go time for the new Cup faves, and the window is open for them to go all the way. That window however, is pretty short. Although Crosby is locked up long term, the Penguins have some contractual issues to deal with, especially with a Salary Cap that is going to go down.

The Penguins now have 18 players hitting some form of free agency in the next two seasons, including Evgeni Malkin, who has one more season left on his deal after this one. They are going to have to find money somewhere. Restricted Free Agents Brandon Sutter, Tyler Kennedy, and homegrown Defenseman Simon Despres?

In addition to Malkin, and their three newest additions, key forwards like Matt Cooke, Pascal Dupuis and Chris Kunitz will all be unrestricted. On the blueline, Matt Niskanen, Brooks Orpik, and standout Kris Letang will all be hitting unrestricted free agency shortly. It's also safe to assume that every single one of those players, especially if they win a cup in this window, are going to look for some decent pay raises. Pittsburgh will simply not have the cap room to keep everyone.

In addition to cap room, the Penguins gave up some hefty draft stock. A first-rounder plus two prospects in the Iginla deal, two second-rounders in the Murray deal, and a former first-round pick, coincidentally named Joe Morrow in the Brendan Morrow deal.

So, the future doesn't look as quite as bright as the potentially uber-prolific present in Pittsburgh. The Pens have pushed in all of their chips to try and win a big hand. It'll be hard, even as a Rangers fan/Pittsburgh Penguins hater, to root against Iginla if the Penguins make it to the finals. While nothing like that is guaranteed just yet, the Penguins have certainly made a big statement as the NHL creeps toward trade deadline: They're in it to win it.

 Both photos in this post from CBC Sports via Google Images