Oh, the drama.
I think Goligoski is clearly the best trade chip the Pens have this season. Obviously the injuries impact his availability, but, if Whitney comes back and looks strong, I think its a no brainer to look to include Goligoski if looking to make any sort of significant trade. Goligoski is an RFA this year, Letang next year. Seems strange because Goligoski is just here this year, but, that pending RFA status does pose an issue. Look at the deal that Alexander Edler just signed in Vancouver. Coming off of his first full season of 20 points, he signs for $3.25 million per (to kick in after one more year of entry next season). If Goligoski performs admirably in his PP duty until Whitney returns, and, if he stays in the lineup until Gonch returns, he's surely looking at a 20+ point season. I'm not saying Edler is a perfect comparison, the one extra year on the entry deal at the time of the extension no dobut played a part in the number, but, Goligoski will surely be looking for a short-term deal around $2.5 or a little bit more with a much longer term. With Grant, Strait, and Sneep in the system, could the club get by without Goligoski until one of these guys is ready? I think so. Letang, Whitney, Gonchar, Orpik, Scuderi, and Eaton as the top six going into next year. Hope one of those three can develop in the AHL enough to plug them in for the 2010/2011 season.
As far as Staal guys, its really a tough call. Looking at his frame and the very raw skills that he possesses, its not hard to imagine him being absolutely dominant in the future. At the same time, Staal has not shown much polish to his game yet. He's young, its only two years, etc, etc. I know this. I guess it really comes down to a couple things: 1) what sort of contract is he going to want? 2) how long of a window do the Pens anticipate for winning the cup. The former is a serious issue. Staal is a perfect candidate for that "second contract" that Brian Burke thinks is gone from the NHL (thanks to Lowe, in his opinion). He simply hasn't developed enough to get a deal of over $3 million, unless its a term of 5-8 years (this could still change this year). That's not an indictment of Staal, but, unless he shows a ton of development this season as a wing, it might be tough to justify keeping Staal at big money. That's where 2) comes into play. Its fine to say Staal will be dominate in 3-4 years if, a) you don't need him to be dominate now based on the money that you give him and the remaining money you have to give to others, and b) if the core for a true Stanley Cup run will be there by the time he develops. I think the Pens will have to pay Staal money that would demand he is a big time contributor right now. I could be wrong, that's just my gut. If that's the case, I don't know if it makes sense. I think it could potentially hold the team back in the next two seasons.
Anyway, a lot of back and forth arguments when it comes to Staal. All of them are really fair points. I know it seems to be asking for criticism to suggest that Staal should be traded, but, realistically, its a fair question. In either case, I'm sure there's going to be at least 30 games played this season before any of the questions can really be answered. Don't expect Gaborik or anyone else anytime soon. RS plays things very conservatively.