Over the next six days as we approach the trade deadline, we’ll scour the interwebs to bring you the latest in NHL trade fabrications and pipe-dreaming. If this post abruptly disappears rest assured it’s because the league’s general managers exhausted themselves in the weeks leading up to Feb. 28, resulting in the most brain-numbing deadline day in NHL history.
The year was 1998, a time when the youth of the nation were responsible for allowing Will Smith’s Gettin’ Jiggy With It to climb to the top 15 of the music charts, and Bill Clinton was denying any sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky. But in Pittsburgh, a moment that would trump any historical or pop culture event took place, a momentous development that had Pittsburghers partying like it was 1999.
Alex Kovalev became a Penguin.
Acquired on Nov. 25 in a blockbuster deal that sent Petr Nedved, Sean Pronger, and Chris Tamer to the Rangers, Kovalev came from New York and would score 159 goals over the next five seasons before going back to Broadway.
Now, Kovalev could be re-united with the Steel City, but only if you enjoy taking stock in loosely sourced rumours. That practice pretty much fits alongside maple syrup and usage of the word “eh” as far as Canadian cultural identity goes around the trade deadline.
With Evgeni Malkin done for the year and Sidney Crosby still on the shelf, the Penguins remain severely depleted offensively. Clearly replacing either of those superstars is impossible, but general manager Ray Shero’s acquisition of young winger James Neal from the Dallas Stars on Sunday begins to fill the gaping offensive void. The likely return of Chris Kunitz from a lower body injury also mends some wounds, but there’s nothing quite like rekindling an old flame.
Tucked away at the bottom of Shelly Anderson’s story Tuesday morning for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is the possibility of the Penguins doing their part to help Bryan Murray with his ongoing dismantling in Ottawa. Anderson writes that the Penguins have “genuine interest” in Kovalev.
The demise of Kovalev may have been greatly exaggerated, but probably not. At 37 years old he’s now one of the NHL’s elder statesmen, and as such a decline should have been both expected and accepted. Kovalev has been hot of late, scoring six goals and nine points over his last nine games. But for a player who has historically been hockey’s answer to Randy Moss, or [insert player here who is tremendously talented but often gives little effort], we’re likely seeing a mirage.
In his first 20 games when Kovalev was being thrown to the wolves and/or scrap heap, he had nine points. In his last 20 games–a stretch that includes his recent streak–Kovalev has 12 points.
The Penguins have kept their collective heads above the rough injury waters, going 10-8-2 since Crosby developed his foggy head. While the prospects of Kovalev continuing his current streak should be met with pessimism, a little more depth on a team that’s lost 25 percent of its offence from last season wouldn’t hurt.
Pittsburgh has $1.6 million freed up with players on injured reserve according to CapGeek.com, and Kovalev would come at a cap hit of $5 million. Some creative maneuvering with his 13 expiring contracts would have to be done by Shero.
And the rest…
- The Kings have kicked the tires on David Booth and Ales Hemsky, according to the Los Angeles Times. However, general manager Dean Lombardi has made it known that prospect Brayden Schenn is not up for discussion.
- Tim Connolly’s days in Buffalo appear to be very, very numbered.
- Peter Chirarelli may not be done with his blueline shuffling quite yet.