The NHL trade deadline is about five weeks away. According to TSN insider Bob McKenzie, the Pittsburgh Penguins have discussed Buffalo Sabres power forward Evander Kane. Last week, ESPN insider (and noted Shales on 5th Avenue fan) Pierre LeBrun reported Kane’s price could be three pieces: A prospect, a first round pick and a conditional pick if Kane re-signs.
Yesterday, Daren Dreger of TSN upped the ante to as many as four pieces, including an NHL roster player. (McKenzie joined Dreger for the segment).
Last week Kane and teammate Justin Falk had a public disagreement at practice, which ended when coaches separated the pair, but not before Falk shouted, “You’re selfish.”
The Sabres have fallen out of contention (last in the Eastern Conference, 2nd worst in NHL) and first-year GM Jason Botterill must continue to build his organization. Kane does not figure to be a part of that process.
PHN Analysis (Dan Kingerski): I think the Sabres will find the market for Kane softer than they hope. Given salary constraints (Kane is owed about $2.2 million from here), the Penguins would need Buffalo to accept salary back in the deal. One wonders what Eichel and Sheary could do together? Perhaps Botteril does, too. That’s likely the only way it works. I can’t see Jim Rutherford parting with Zac Aston-Reese and a high pick for Kane.
McKenzie also posits the Penguins could be looking at a former homegrown talent: Edmonton Oilers center Mark Letestu. Letestu, 32, is the Oilers fourth line center, between Drake Caggiula and Zach Kassian. In 46 games, Letestu has 16 points (8g, 8a), including six points (3g, 3a) on the power play.
Like Ian Cole, Letestu is a pending UFA with a reasonable salary ($1.8 million), who is owed about $740,000 between now and the end of the season. Could Letestu be inserted as the Penguins third line center? On paper, the Oil and the Pens could line up on this one.
PHN Analysis (Shelly Anderson): Letestu was an undrafted free agent who impressed the former Penguins brass, years ago. He was a good locker room guy then and would be an even better one now. In an ideal world, Letestu could be serviceable as a playmaker for Phil Kessel, but its doubtful Letestu would be an upgrade over the Penguins current third line center options. Letestu has never reached 20 goals, and with his 33rd birthday just a few weeks away, he may not have the speed to be a great fit.
The Penguins task of getting maximum value for Ian Cole has taken a hit. Several more serviceable defensemen have hit the market. Mike Green, Jack Johnson, and Paul Martin join a growing field of available blueliners.
According to McKenzie, Green is not yet on the market but will be as soon as Detroit gives up the ghost.
Jack Johnson has reportedly asked for a trade, out of Columbus.
Last week, Paul Martin, 36, was waived by the San Jose Sharks. The former Penguins defenseman has one year remaining on his four year-$19.4 million deal. His cap hit is $4.85. He’ll be a tough move for San Jose unless the Sharks sweeten the offer, but an additional body on the market gives Jim Rutherford less leverage.