Is Adam Lowry of the Winnipeg Jets the Pittsburgh Penguins third line center target?
The Winnipeg Jets have scouted the last three Penguins games, despite none of the opponents appearing on the Jets immediate schedule. The Jets already have a surplus of centers, and top-line pivot Mark Scheifele will return from injury next week.
Jack Roslovic and Mathieu Perrault are a pair of natural centers currently playing on the wing in Winnipeg. Blake Wheeler is a natural winger playing center in Scheifele’s absence and done so with competence.
The Jets are overloaded. Though, the Jets could use more speed and talent in their bottom six.
Enter, the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Penguins have made a concerted effort to get bigger and stronger, this season. Ryan Reaves is the most obvious addition to that end, but Riley Sheahan is also a quiet big man. And, defenseman Jamie Oleksiak.
Lowry, 24, is a solid third line center. Literally and figuratively. At 6′-5″ and 210 pounds, Lowry is a big bodied center who uses his size well. Lowry can kill penalties and block sunlight on the power play.
At just $1.125 million this season, Lowry is easily affordable. The big middleman will be an RFA after this season, which means his team will retain his rights next season and have negotiating leverage.
There aren’t many defensemen in the Metro Division or the Eastern Conference who can handle the wide-bodied Lowry. The Penguins would be forgiven for being intrigued by a center who doesn’t play fast but plays heavy with plenty of jam.
Lowry can skate and is a disruptive forechecker. He also pays attention to the small details in the defensive zone. Lowry successfully blanketed Steve Stamkos in the Jets 3-1 win over Tampa Bay, Tuesday night. Stamkos managed only one shot in over 17 minutes.
In 34 games, Lowry has eight goals and six assists. He has dished 91 hits and won 55% of faceoffs. He is still growing, offensively.
Most of Lowry’s goals have were scored within five feet. Even the larger Western Conference defensemen haven’t been able to keep Lowry out of the crease.
Lowry’s advanced stats are amazing; a 56.61% Corsi and an even more impressive 58.8% Fenwick (which credits shot blockers, not the shooter).
Pittsburgh Hockey Now looked at Lowry last summer, as well.
The Penguins would be wise to wonder what such a center could do with the speedy, playmaking wings which dot their roster. And they would be wise to wonder what such a center could do to talented forwards in Washington, smaller forwards in New Jersey, or the chippy Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Jets are a difficult team to assess adequately. They have depth and versatility.
Are they sufficiently pleased with Blake Wheeler at center to further balance their lines; Scheifele on the top line, Wheeler as a second line center, and push serviceable scoring pivot Bryan Little to the third line? The Jets have options.
There exists a possibility Rutherford will again use one trade to set up another as he did in December with the Josh Archibald trade to Arizona and acquisition of Jamie Oleksiak from Dallas.
An Ian Cole deal with another club could be the fulcrum on which a trade with Winnipeg, or anyone else, hinges.
The Jets could demand one of the Penguins speedy or individually talented wingers or one of the gifted prospects currently learning their craft in WBS. The Jets unlikely want one of the Penguins defensemen and have a goaltending prospect, Eric Comrie.
Won’t Deal with Pittsburgh
Opposing teams unwillingness to deal with the Penguins because the Penguins have won two straight Stanley Cups has been whispered around PPG, been the subject of national reports, and widespread conjecture.
So, it is not surprising Western Conference teams are scouting the Penguins. Eventually needs and wants will override personal fears, at least for organizations which don’t view the Penguins as direct competition. A team like Winnipeg would be happy to meet the Penguins in June.
So would Los Angeles. The Kings have a pair of Stanley Cups in the rearview mirror and don’t figure to be confined by the insecurities which may hamper others. The Kings have been intently scouting the Penguins and have sent at least two different scouts to Pittsburgh over the last four games.