|Would the Senators trade Daniel Alfredsson if they fall out of the playoff race? (Getty Images)|
Even though the Ottawa Senators have had to deal with some crushing injuries to Jason Spezza and Erik Karlsson, their two best players, they remain in a playoff position with a 9-6-2 record as of Thursday afternoon.
If those injuries start to catch up to them and they should happen to fall out of the playoff race, that could mean longtime Senator (and captain) Daniel Alfredsson could be put on the trading block. And if that happens, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins could be interested in adding him to their lineup, according to Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun.
As reported by the Sun on Saturday, Alfredsson will be targeted by the Bruins and Penguins is Sens fall out of playoff race. #Sens— Bruce Garrioch (@SunGarrioch) February 21, 2013
The 40-year-old Alfredsson is in the final year of a contract that pays him an average annual salary of $4.875 million per year.
Both the Penguins and Bruins would have the cap space to take on that contract.
Although Alfredsson would be a nice bonus for a team like Pittsburgh, he might fill a bigger need for Boston (ESPN's Pierre LeBrun also believes Boston will make a strong push for Alfredsson should he become available). As of Thursday, the Bruins are scoring 2.69 goals per game, 14th in the NHL.
But what about the Penguins?
Though they are one of the highest-scoring teams in the league, they seem determined to add another winger to fill the black hole that has been the left-wing spot on the Evgeni Malkin-James Neal line. That spot was filled by Chris Kunitz last year, and the trio was one of the best lines in hockey. Kunitz has spent this season alongside Sidney Crosby, the spot where he has spent most of his Penguins career.
That has left an opening next to Malkin and Neal that has been a constant sore spot. The Penguins have tried a revolving door of stopgaps including Tyler Kennedy, Matt Cooke, Zack Boychuk, Eric Tangradi and even Tanner Glass for a handful of shifts. Cooke is the only player among that group who has recorded a point while playing on that line this season.
Pittsburgh's best trade chip at the moment might be young puck-moving defenseman Simon Despres, and the team is willing to move him for the right player. But I can't imagine that player being a 40-year-old rental who probably won't be with the team next season.
Despres has played well this season when given an opportunity, scoring two goals and showing an ability to move the puck. But for some reason, he hasn't been given an extended look recently, playing just 10 minutes in each of his past two games and then spending Pittsburgh's last two games as a healthy scratch while Robert Bortuzzo and Deryk Engelland play ahead of him.
The Penguins have stockpiled young defensemen in recent years and have one of the deepest prospect pools in the league at the position. They've also had a habit of dealing from that to acquire other players (Kunitz and Neal being the best examples). I'm not sure they're going to dip into that pool for Alfredsson. But if they can find another Kunitz or Neal, they would absolutely part ways with a player like Despres.