The Pittsburgh Penguins sit atop the Eastern Conference standings but there are growing concerns about their depth and defensive talent as the March 5 trade deadline nears.
According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the Penguins are “very interested” in making a deal for Vancouver Canucks center Ryan Kesler, who reportedly requested a trade from the team.
Rob Rossi (@RobRossi_Trib) March 01, 2014
Kesler, when healthy, is a tremendous defensive forward capable of winning faceoffs consistently and scoring 20-30 goals per season. He’s still in the prime of his career at 29 years old and has two more years remaining on his contract with a $5 million salary cap hit. He’s tallied 38 points and leads the Canucks with 20 goals this season.
The Penguins already have three quality centers with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin leading the league’s fourth-highest scoring offense, and Brandon Sutter excelling as a checking forward in a shut-down role on the third line.
The more pressing need for the Penguins is adding a top-four defenseman before the deadline. Veteran blue-liner Paul Martin will miss 4-6 weeks with a broken hand and No. 1 defenseman Kris Letang is out indefinitely after suffering a stroke in January.