Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Shero was in Toronto so he must be after Sundin

Ray Shero took in last night’s Florida blowout of Toronto. Which, less than three weeks before the trade deadline leads to the obvious speculation that he was there for more than just a routine visit.

This article, as you’d expect from one written in Toronto, suggests Shero could be targeting Leafs’ captain Mats Sundin or Florida captain Olli Jokinen. Hey, go big or go home, right?

Aside from the obvious, which apparently isn’t obvious to those north of the border writers, here’s why it won’t happen.

Jokinen won’t be a Penguin because:

  • They’re 1 point out of the division lead. The Southeast has devolved into a 4 team slugfest, at this point looking like only the winner will be in the playoffs. A team doesn’t trade their captain and best offensive player when they’re so close to the playoffs.
    He has 3 more years on his contract, and it’s pretty favorable for the Panthers. They’re not going to trade him and downgrade their chances just because he has supposedly has heat with management. It is true that winning cures all, and if they do that, obviously everyone’s happy.
  • Even if Florida was interested in a trade, the cost would be far too high. Playing devil’s advocate, if we’re the Florida GM the first thing we’d ask for is someone the Pens aren’t going to deal (Jordan Staal). But if Pittsburgh wants to acquire a top flight player, they’re going to have to pay a king’s ransom, something for the Pens to consider. Simply Erik Christensen and a draft pick is not going to be enough.

Sundin won’t be a Penguin because:

  • The most obvious reason is he holds the cards. Sundin has a no trade clause and doesn’t have to go anywhere. In fact, all his public comments to this point have said he doesn’t intend to leave Toronto; neither now nor this summer when he could be a UFA. Players have waived NTCs (Gary Roberts, Georges Laraque) to join the Pens as a contender but they don’t necessarily have to.
  • Again the return is going to be too high. Shero has said his philosophy is to build through the draft and not trade high picks. Toronto will surely want a young player in the organization (like maybe EC or Alex Goligoski), an impressive prospect (like Angelo Esposito) and definitely the Pens 1st round pick this season. That’s too much a price to rent Mats Sundin for a couple months, especially given the Pens depth at center when Crosby returns.

So throw the big guns out of your mind…Think of what Michel Therrien said the Penguins need; a touch defenseman. Since we’ve ruled Florida out as sellers, someone sticks out in Toronto’s lineup….Which is easy to do, because he’s 6’7”.

We’re talking Hal Gill. For his mis-comings (not pretty skating at times) he’s earned a bad rap to the average fan. But consider some of his finer attributes:
--102 blocked shots, 82 hits this season. That would rank him 1st and 2nd in those respective categories among Penguins.

--A manageable salary of just over $2 million (which mean it would cost about an additional $600,000 to add him for the remainder of this year) plus next year he makes $2.1 million.
At 32 years old, he’s not over the hill like some other defenseman that could be on the trade block.

--Despite averaging over 21 minutes of ice-time a night for one of the league’s sloppiest and worst teams, Gill’s +/- is a respectable -3.

--Unlike current Penguins defensive defenseman, Gill can actually do something with the puck, as evidenced by his output of 2 goals and 17 assists. Even those modest stats are better than Rob Scuderi, Brooks Orpik and Darryl Sydor….Combined. Plus Gill has more assists than Ryan Whitney. Just sayin’.

We’re not saying the Pens will 100% certainly bring Hal Gill in. But given his skill-set, salary situation and place on the team, it seems a lot more realistic to see Shero rather than try to acquire Gill than look seriously into the Sundin Sweepstakes (too expensive) or the Jokinen Jackpot (which probably doesn’t exist).


Doc Nagel said...

That makes eminently more sense. The Penguins could definitely use a sniper, but any sniper they could use would cost more than Shero has seemed willing to pay.

And if you think about it, Toronto's a seller this year. Florida's pretty deep on defense as well. Once Van Ryn comes back, they may feel they have some room to deal someone.

What do you make of the Rob Blake rumor?

Hooks Orpik said...

I think he'd make a great addition for the Pens; Rob Blake has blocked 113 shots this year, recorded 69 hits and averaged 22:44 ice-time. 5 goals and 21 assists too. Even at an advanced age, I think he'd be a terrific battle tested addition to the team.

That said, I don't think it's likely to happen. Blake has a no trade clause and he's 38 years old; he has a family and makes a home in LA.

All his comments to the media have seemed earnest in building the Kings' organization up (he's a mentor to Sid's friend Jack Johnson) and Blake's emphatically said he will not waive his NTC. He's been very consistent in this all season long. He's pointed to the fact he's already won the Stanley Cup (with Colorado) so he feels no pressure to leave SoCal for a contender.

So it would be surprising to see him dealt. But it has to be favorable that Blake has obvious ties to the Penguins: he played 5 seasons with Darryl Sydor in LA during the early '90s and was with Mario on Team Canada in 2002; so at the very least he has a strong rapport with influental members of the Pens. Also consider no one believed Gary Roberts would waive his NTC for anyone other than Toronto or Ottawa (let alone resign with Pittsburgh this summer). It's clear that the Pens young core and potential is an enticing situation and hard to pass up, especially if it's sold to Blake that he's the missing piece to the puzzle. More often than not, skilled professional athletes, no matter what they say, always want to compete and be in the thick of things. And though Blake would never say (or perhaps think it) a 2nd Stanley Cup for him might not only be a good way to go out on top but put him over the top for a hall of fame career if he's a contributer down the stretch...

So if Blake was to be traded, I wouldn't be totally shocked if it ended up being Pittsburgh, I just don't see it as very likely that he's going to make the sacrifice in his personal life to accommodate it.