February 28 2014 09:50AM
(photo courtesy NHL/NHL.com)
About a year ago, the town was buzzing about a potential Flame
being dealt at the deadline to the Pittsburgh Penguins to play on Sidney
Crosby's wing - like he did in 2010 - and help the Pens to a Stanley Cup. The
one generating that buzz was of course long-time captain and icon Jarome
Iginla. Sure enough, in bizarre fashion, Iginla was shipped to the Steel City.
Now, just under a year later, the Penguins appear to be right in the thick
of things relating to acquiring a Flames rental sniper at the deadline, once
again. This time, it's Mike Cammalleri. At first glance it seems like an odd
fit for a number of reasons, but if we look a little deeper, this may actually
be a scenario which makes sense for both teams.
They have a hole on one of Crosby's wings - with Pascal Dupuis out for the year with an injury - and they have a wealth of quality prospects (even without Hanowski and Agostino! Imagine that!).
Pascal Dupuis has been a staple on the Penguins top line along side Olympic Gold medalists Crosby and Chris Kunitz for a number of seasons, and now finds himself sidelined with a season ending knee injury. That leaves a pretty big hole on the right side on the Pens' top line. Cammalleri has pulled a little right wing duty in his career, although not a ton. You'd think he'd be an upgrade over the current resident in that spot - Brian Gibbons. Never heard of him? Exactly. I'm not sure if the Penguins want to give up considerable assets for a few months of a rental again, but an upgrade on that right side is desperately needed, no doubt.
Note: The scenario is only referring to the type of pick and quality of prospect in it. The specific prospects I list are only examples of the caliber mentioned.
Best Case Scenario:
2014 1st Round Pick + B/C Prospect (ex: Oskar Sundqvist, Anton Zlobin, Jake Guentzel)
The Penguins' 1st in 2013 went to the Flames in the Iginla deal and turned into Morgan Klimchuk, which I'm sure Calgary is very satisfied with. I'm sure they'd like to try that again this year and try extracting another Top 30 selection from Ray Shero and company. However, I doubt they're successful for a number of reasons, primarily being that if Pittsburgh gives up their first this year, they wouldn't pick until the 3rd round (their 2nd went to San Jose in the Doug Murray deal). It is a weak draft, but not choosing in the Top 60 is not something the Pens looking favourably on, I'm sure.
The Penguins have no shortage of B/C prospects, as they proved last year when they pulled Agostino and Hanowski out of nowhere. Oskar Sundqvist may be a prospect which strikes the Flames fancy, being a big, responsible centerman. The six-foot-three faceoff taker has played 46 games in the SHL this year and registered 14 points in those contests - very respectable numbers for a 19 year old in that league. Skating may be an issue with Sundqvist, but such tools can be taught and groomed as the player develops. Anton Zlobin has an awesome name and scored the Memorial Cup winning goal for Shawinigan a few years ago, padding some recognition to his name. Zlobin plays the right side, an area of weakness in the Flames system (where they have Emile Poirier, Ben Hanowski and not much else), and would also infuse more skill and creativity into the farm. After a decade of farm hands as prospects, you can never have enough skill! Zlobin is a tad undersized at five-foot-11 but weighs in at a respectable 198. He has 10 points in 30 AHL games as a rookie. Jake Guentzel is an interesting name because he reminds me a bit of Johnny Gaudreau - except less awesome. He's small at five-foot-10, 157 pounds, but ripped up the USHL before going to college and almost scoring a point per game as a freshman. He has 25 points in 30 games, although just four snipes. He's the "anti-Burke" ideal of a player, but those numbers as an undersized, freshman centerman are impressive.
2014 3rd Round Pick + A/B Prospect (ex: Scott Harrington, Simon Despres, Brian Dumoulin)
Now, before you shred me apart, just know that if the pick is not a first rounder, Burke is going to want a quality prospect, and that's what these guys listed above are.
Scott Harrington is in his rookie AHL season this year and is a solid, solid 2-way defenseman. A solid skater and puck mover, Harrington is not awfully offensively inclined. The six-foot-one, 203-pound blueliner excels best in the defensive zone, shutting down opponents and neutralizing scoring chances against. He's basically Tyler Wotherspoon, actually. Of Pittsburgh's big pool of defenseman, he may the one they'd most likely part with, with Brian Dumoulin probably being the other. The big, six-foot-three defender was brought to Pittsburgh in the Jordan Staal deal and has been solid at both the AHL and NHL level. At 22, Dumoulin is NHL ready now and brings both offensive and defensive qualities to the ice. Simon Despres may be a pipe dream, along with Derrick Pouliot (the other top gun defensive prospect; not listed), because of his high ceiling. Despres was a 30th overall pick in 2009 and has shown strong offensive ability. He already has 69 NHL games under his belt, 18 of them this year, and I think the Penguins envision him as a member of their club moving forward, even more so now with Kris Letang's status unknown.
Sum It Up
A deal sending Cammalleri to Pittsburgh seems very plausible, in fact I see it being a destination that makes a lot of sense. The price tag for a Moulson or Vanek rental would probably be way to much to swallow for Ray Shero so still acquiring a quality sniper like Cammalleri would make sense. Given the wealth of prospects they sit on, dealing with the Penguins looks to be a good idea for the Flames too. "A 5-foot-9 rental with concussion history for THAT price?! Are you nuts?!"
Well that's the market right now and if the return isn't relatively hefty
like broken down above, Cammalleri will be lining up for the Calgary Flames on
March 5th, because Brian Burke is not just going to be giving him away.