As NHL teams approach 24 hours to go before Wednesday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline, talks between general managers are intensifying and deals are getting done.
Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero has done plenty of talking, but the doing has been non-existent so far. That may change in a matter of minutes, as the number of players the Pens have been linked to continues to increase.
We’ve already heard about Shero’s dogged pursuit of Ryan Kesler, as well as his interest in Ales Hemsky, Marek Zidlicky, Andrew MacDonald and Matt Moulson, but we heard a new name from a fresh source Tuesday afternoon:
Source: Penguins join LA as teams most interested in Thomas Vanek, at least as of like right now Twittertime.
— Chris Botta (@ChrisBottaNHL) March 4, 2014
For the uninitiated, Chris Botta worked for the New York Islanders for many years and remains plugged into the team’s motivations, so he’s a very reliable source on what Isles GM Garth Snow is up to.
On the surface, adding Vanek makes some sense. The 30-year-old Austrian hasn’t exactly exploded since arriving on Long Island from Buffalo via trade last fall, but he’s still put up 21 goals and 32 assists in 60 games this season.
Vanek is also a natural right wing, which fits with the Penguins’ need at that position on Sidney Crosby‘s line. Rookie Brian Gibbons has been manning that spot since Pascal Dupuis suffered a season-ending knee injury in December, but it doesn’t appear Gibbons is a long-term solution.
To be clear, neither is Vanek, as his contract expires this summer. He’s also far removed from his days as an elite goal scorer; 2008-09 was the last season he netted at least 40, and he hasn’t reached 30 since 2010-11.
Nevertheless, one would imagine that the 6-foot-2 sharpshooter would get better looks at the net while playing with Crosby and Chris Kunitz. Vanek’s cap hit is an expensive $7.142 million, although his talent is tantalizing enough to justify Shero’s reported interest, even if the Pittsburgh GM has said he’d like to shy away from “rentals” this season.
Keep it here on City of Champions for more on the Penguins’ activity as the NHL trade deadline draws closer.