Unlike last year, the NHL trade deadline passed rather quietly for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
But while general manager Ray Shero didn’t generate another flashy move for a high-profile player, he did improve his team’s depth up front with trades for Florida center Marcel Goc and Flames wing Lee Stempniak.
Matt Shetler had the report on Goc earlier, and the Penguins almost immediately announced that Chuck Kobasew has been sent down to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to make room for the 30-year-old German. Kobasew cleared waivers earlier in the week, so his time with the team was likely short anyway.
As for the 31-year-old Stempniak, his acquisition wasn’t announced until well after the 3 p.m. deadline, as the NHL had to deal with a backlog of trade calls. According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, among others, the Penguins gave up only a third-round pick in the transaction with Calgary.
Stempniak comes with a prorated $2.5 million salary, which isn’t a huge payout for the natural right winger. He has eight goals and 15 assists in 52 games while averaging about 20 minutes a night for the Flames. The former Blue, Maple Leaf and Coyote might not play that much in Pittsburgh, but he should make an impact on a team searching for competent play on its bottom two lines.
The addition of Goc and Stempniak raises questions. Will Penguins coach Dan Bylsma employ Goc at his natural center position on the fourth line or play him at wing alongside Brandon Sutter on the third? Is Stempniak ticketed for third-line duty or can he possibly slot on Sidney Crosby‘s right flank?
Both Stempniak and Goc had better puck-possession stats than one would expect on their struggling former teams, so they should be upgrades over the likes of Kobasew, Taylor Pyatt, Craig Adams and/or Tanner Glass. On a team like the Penguins that boasts some of the best individual offensive talent in the world, sprucing up the infantry may be enough fortification for another run at the Stanley Cup.
Stempniak’s contract expires this summer. The first-place Penguins (41-16-4, 86 points) get back in action Thursday night at San Jose.