Penguins to Bolts: Let’s Make a Deal – Pittsburgh Penguins – PenguinPoop Blog

Penguins to Bolts: Let’s Make a Deal

With the NHL trade deadline looming just around the corner, I was scanning the Penguins’ roster this morning and thinking of ways to improve the team. All of a sudden a potential deal popped into my head—ironically involving the Tampa Bay Lightning—who just happen to be in town. I thought I’d share it with our loyal PenguinPoop readers.

I propose that Pens general manager Ray Shero package reserve defenseman Ben Lovejoy and prospect Eric Tangradi to the Lightning for right wing Steve Downie. If he could wrangle a mid-round draft pick out of Bolts GM Steve Yzerman, that’d be great.

The trade would make sense for both teams. The Lightning (7-1-2 in their last 10 games) still harbor hopes of making the playoffs. Yet it’s no secret they have one of the weakest defensive corps in the league. Lovejoy would give the Bolts what they so desperately need—a mobile defenseman who can move the puck and play a reliable game in his own zone.

Although I’m not especially anxious to part with the Concord, New Hampshire native, he’s going to waste riding the pine in the ‘Burgh. Moving Lovejoy would be a bit of a gamble—he provides wonderful insurance in case of an unforeseen injury. But I’m confident that youngster Simon Despres can plug a gap on the Pens’ defense if the situation calls for it.

Nor do I really want to see Tangradi leave town. However, it’s abundantly clear the strapping 22-year-old winger doesn’t fit coach Dan Bylsma’s speed-oriented style. He’d have a much better chance of flourishing under Tampa Bay’s structured 1-3-1 system.

Now for the upside. Downie would fill a lot of voids with one bold stroke. The 5’11” 191-pounder is an explosive skater who is tailor-made for the Pens’ puck-possession game. More to the point, he’d provide a potential scoring winger (22 goals in 2009-10) for Sidney Crosby, which would enable Bylsma to keep the Kunitz-Malkin-Nealtrio intact upon Sid’s return. And Downie’s a combative little bugger (121 penalty minutes and counting) who would brook no transgressions against the Pens’ captain. Best of all, he’s only 24 years old.

While it’s true the former first-round pick has a checkered past (he once served a 20-game suspension), Bylsma has a way of settling guys down and getting the most out of them.

I’m no capologist, so I’m not sure how well the trade would work from a financial standpoint. Downie’s 2011-12 cap hit is $1.85 million; Lovejoy’s is considerably less ($525,000). Tangradi’s NHL cap hit is $845,333. It might require some creative shuffling on Shero’s part, but I think it’s a deal worth doing.

*Be sure to check out Rick’s new book, “100 Things Penguins Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die” at TriumphBooks.com. It features 296 pages of bios, stories, anecdotes and photos from the team’s colorful past in a compelling, easy-to-read style. Whether you’re a die-hard booster from the days of Jean Pronovost or a big fan of Sid and Geno, this book is a must have for any true Penguins fan.

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  1. IvantT's Gravatar IvantT
    February 21, 2012 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

    Downie went to the Avs

  2. JoeyB's Gravatar JoeyB
    February 15, 2012 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    I like the way you are thinking. Lovejoy is good and will get better, but we are loaded on the D-side. He does ride the pine and it is a waste of talent. I like the Lovejoy move better than a Niskanen move(who people seem to always want to get rid of). I think Nisky has shown up this year and I can see him in the top four soon. I don’t think Tangradi will ever be able to keep up with a Crosby or Malking, so he will always be a 3rd or 4th liner here in Pitt. Downie? I don’t know. I think we need to grab someone a little bigger. Downie is feisty and has fire, but not really the body we need. Malone? Too much salary, age, and has been getting injured a lot in recent years. I don’t know if he would last in Penguins fast paced system. The Penguins DO need to pick up someone because that first line should remain intact even if God showed up to play for the Pens. They are jus so much more than money right now.

    • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
      February 15, 2012 at 10:19 am | Permalink

      Thanks JoeyB. I agree with you about Niskanen. I think he’s emerged as a really solid all-around defenseman, so there’s no a way I trade him (unless someone makes Shero an offer he absolutely can’t refuse). I actually like Lovejoy, too, and think he’s proven himself worthy of skating a regular shift in the NHL. But there just isn’t room for him in the ‘Burgh with everyone healthy. Plus, when you factor in the young d-men in the system (Despres, Morrow, Strait, Grant) he’s the most logical guy to go.

      I like Tangradi, too, and don’t really feel the Pens have given him a legitimate chance to shine. But I just get the sense that Bylsma wants a guy with more speed.

      Downie’s probably a bit of a reach, although I do think he might work well with Sid given his skating and underrated offensive skills. Like you and IvanT, ideally I’d want someone with more size. Kind of a younger, cheaper version of Ryan Malone.

      Another guy I’ve always liked is R.J. Umberger. He works really hard, is always around the puck, and seems to make things happen when he’s on the ice (at least when he’s playing against the Pens). While he’s not overly physical in a fighting sense, he’s got size (6-2, 216) and at 29, is just entering his prime. And he’s always posted solid numbers, although he’s having a bit of a down year (9 goals).

      Unfortunately, his cap hit is a whopping $3.75 mil. Even if we could afford him, it would probably take more than a Lovejoy/Tangradi combo to get him. Most likely a decent, proven forward and a top defensive prospect.

  3. IvantT's Gravatar IvantT
    February 12, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

    No way, his downside far outweighs his upside. Lovejoy straight up for Downie maybe. The guy is a -15 and most of his penalties are stupid ass ones that could cost the team. Tampa needs defense and we have defense, Malone is supposedly also out there and available to trade for. Malone for Lovejoy and Tangradi that would work.

    • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
      February 13, 2012 at 9:01 am | Permalink

      I’d love to get Malone back. I agree he’s a more solid citizen than Downie and he’d add some size up front, which I think the Pens really need. The drawbacks with “Bugsy” are his age (he’s already 32) and the fact that he’s become a bit injury prone.

      Also, I don’t know if the Pens would be able to clear enough cap space to get him or what they’d have to give up in return (probably more than Lovejoy and/or Tangradi). But it sure would be great to see him wearing a Pens uniform again.

  4. Anonymous's Gravatar Anonymous
    February 12, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    I hate Downie, but I’m betting he’s one of those love/hate guys. You love him on your team and hate him on someone elses team.

  5. FBubble's Gravatar FBubble
    February 12, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    It would probably have to end up being Niskanen & Tangradi. With Despres showing promise shouldn’t be a big deal


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