Just off of needs, one transaction that would make sense for the Pens would be inquiring about Adam Foote. He's a great defensive defenseman, a leader, has won a Cup and as tough as they come; which we all know are traits and attributes in high demand this time of year for contenders.
But hold the phone; thanks to a series of moves over the past year or so (the firing of incompetant GM Don McLean, the hiring of Ken Hitchcock and his installation of his great system) the BJ's have finally become a competitive team. With so many teams so close to being in playoff contention, Columbus isn't your typical "seller" this season; less than five teams are at this point.
The clock is ticking however, with 27 games remaining the Jackets sit four points out of the playoffs, with perhaps more importantly three teams to climb over and two others right on their heald. Plus we're not T-3 weeks to the trading deadline. BJ GM Scott Howson has some decisions to make and he spelled out the specific factors that will lead to dealing or keeping Foote, a UFA to be.
1. The state of team – is it surging or slumping
2. Health of the team – can the Jackets realistically make a run with the players in place
4. How many teams must they leap frog to get to the final spot.
We've outlined points #3 and #4, as far as #1 goes they're 4-5-1 over the past 10 games, which is not going to get it done when two of the teams they need to beat out (Phoenix 5-2-3, Nashville 7-2-1) are clicking at a significantly better pace.
Their health, for now, seems fine; they just added former Penguins leading scorer Dick Tarnstrom to their defensive core and it seems their breakout goalie sensation Pascal Leclaire could be back in the net as soon as Saturday. Leclaire went down the other night against Washington with a neck sprain when his crease got crashed, with a little help from a BJ dman. If Leclaire's prognosis was worse, the health becomes a huge issue, but it appears they dodge a bullet there and will not be in trouble.
It's also important to note that Foote is their captain and--like so many veterans, holds a no-trade clause so any trade will have to be approved by him before it can be completed.
Just another option to think about for Pens fans and a situation in Ohio to keep half an eye on. They have a pretty critical matchup tonight against the surprisingly upstart Coyotes.
(hat-tip to kuklaskorner for the link)