Penguins fail to land star center Kesler at NHL trade deadline
General manager Ray Shero called Ryan Kesler “a really good hockey player” on Wednesday.
Shero cannot call Kesler a Penguin, though.
The Penguins could not close a deal on Kesler, a coveted center who remained with the Vancouver Canucks past the expiration of the NHL trade deadline.
“We had inquired with them, but … I don't think there was a deal there to be made,” Shero said.
The Penguins and Canucks discussed parameters of a trade, but Shero never formalized an offer beyond informing Vancouver general manager Mike Gillis which assets were available.
Those assets were center Brandon Sutter, a first- and third-round pick, and the Canucks' choice of any defensive prospect in the system — except Derrick Pouliot, a first-round pick from the 2012 draft.
Members of the Penguins player development staff have lobbied Shero to make Pouliot untouchable because their opinion is he could make an Olli Maatta-like transition to the NHL at some point next season.
Maatta, also a first-round pick in 2012, has emerged as a top rookie this season at age 19.
Pouliot is 20.
“Derrick's a big part of our group going forward,” Shero said. “He's a special talent.
“The good thing about the trade deadline is you always know which of your players are good because those are the ones other teams ask for.”
Shero believed the Canucks needed Pouliot to be included in a package for Kesler, who has two years remaining on his contract that is salary-cap friendly at $5 million annually.
Despite being in contact with Gillis since last week, Shero started Wednesday unconvinced Vancouver ownership was willing to part with Kesler a day after trading franchise goalie Robert Luongo to Florida. Gillis told reporters in Vancouver that ownership was involved in his dealings regarding Kesler, though Gillis denied any rift with his bosses.
Landing Kesler would have been a “hockey trade,” Shero said. It would have been his biggest since sending center Jordan Staal to Carolina in exchange for Sutter, defenseman Brian Dumoulin and the 2012 first-round pick that was used on Pouliot.
Sutter, dismayed to hear his fate might be tied to Kesler's future, went from uncertain of his place with the Penguins to being the center for whom Shero landed a couple of wingers.
The Penguins acquired Marcel Goc from Florida and Lee Stempniak from Calgary on Wednesday. The combined costs were third- and fifth-round picks at the 2014 draft and a third-round pick in '15.
Shero lauded both players' “versatility.” Goc also can play center, and Stempniak, a right-handed shot, could see time with captain Sidney Crosby and left winger Chris Kunitz on the top line.
Where they play will be left up to coach Dan Bylsma, Shero said. But upgrading the third line, which has featured Sutter and 16 different wingers, was a priority for the past several weeks.
“What's important to us is our depth at the forward position,” Shero said, noting the Penguins did not sacrifice a roster player for Goc and Stempniak, both of whom are in the final seasons of current contracts.
Shero said those acquisitions also will help with the Penguins' cap flexibility until the Stanley Cup playoffs, when teams can exceed the upper payroll limit.
Goc and Stempniak combine to count $4.2 million prorated against the cap, leaving the Penguins enough room under the $64.3 million cap to clear space for defenseman Paul Martin's potential return before the playoffs, Shero said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Zatkoff’s, Malkin’s heroics not enough as Oilers down Penguins in shootout
- Penguins lose hard-fought game to Blue Jackets in overtime
- Penguins notebook: Players prepared for tough schedule in minors
- Penguins 4th line is showing promise
- Penguins co-owner Lemieux snuffs rumored rift with Crosby
- Hard-hitting Penguins veteran winger Kunitz is last of a dying breed
- Starkey: Farewell to NHL fighting
- Crosby scores twice, Malkin delivers OT goal as Penguins beat Blues