OK, so coverage of Monday’s trade was pretty extensive, but in case you missed any of it here are the links:
= Trade story, with comments from GM Ray Shero, coach Dan Bylsma, Ds Alex Goligoski and Matt Niskanen: http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/s_723971.html
= My big-picture analysis on what this deal means: http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_724062.html
= Goligoski speaking on his way out: http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_724017.html
By the way, both Niskanen and LW James Neal will be at practice today.
Now, as that analysis piece points out, there is a strong belief around the NHL that Shero isn’t done dealing. What I’m hearing on that:
= There is interest within the organization, though hardly a consensus among the hockey folks, about Senators RW Alex Kovalev. From what I’ve heard from several sources independent of the Penguins; there are not many other team interested in acquiring Kovalev, and that the Senators are likely to hold him until close to the deadline in hopes of attracting some other bidders to drive up the price. Discussions with the Penguins are believed to have involved a low-round or conditional draft pick.
I don’t see the fit with Kovalev and Bylsma’s system, but I welcome readers to chip in with comments as to why he might be a good fit for this Penguins team.
= Trying to track the Penguins’ available room under the salary cap is tough because assistant GM Jason Botterill has done such a masterful job of moving players up and down and all around this season to preserve every dime. Nearest as I can tell they would have sufficient room to add Kovalev, who is on an expiring contract at a $5 million hit.
(By the way, the next team looking for a GM should seriously consider Botterill despite his limited experience. He has been the assistant to Shero for only two seasons. However, as a couple of hockey folks around within the league have told me, nobody understands the salary cap better than Botterill. His grasp of the cap – not just their own, but the cap situation for other teams – might be as important to the Penguins as any of their on-ice assets.)
= Here is another option for the Penguins, at least a name I’ve heard has come up in discussions: Panthers LW Corey Stillman, also on an expiring deal at $3.533 million. He has scored seven goals, half the total of Kovalev.
= I fully expect the Penguins to wait until later this week, and probably until Sunday or Monday, before making their next move. When Shero uses a phrase such as “let the dust settle,” as he did Monday while discussing the trades, that has in the past meant he either isn’t close on something or wants to explore more options.