(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
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
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.