Trade Targets: Devin Setoguchi
DISCLAIMER: I’m no NHL Insider(r?) nor am I pretending to be. My only sources are my own pure speculation based on what I know from watching other teams around the league. Nothing in this post should be interpreted as insider information or substantial rumors.
One of the time-honored traditions of being a hockey fan in armchair-GMing. What’s more fun that speculating about trades for your favorite team? As a hockey fan with an aversion to sleeping on time and a GameCenter Live subscription, I see a good bit on non-Penguins hockey and I’ve gotten to know how a lot of other players play. This is a series that will profile some of the players around the NHL who might look good in a Penguins uniform.
Devin Setoguchi (age 26)
RW, Minnesota Wild
Contract status: Signed through 2014
Cap hit: $3 million
Why the Penguins will get him: Setoguchi is a member of a crop of forwards in Minnesota that is quickly getting crowded. With a top-six including Mikko Koivu, Mikael Granlund, Dany Heatley, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, and of course Zach Parise, plus a handful of forwards knocking on the door from the AHL, Setoguchi could suddenly be expendable for the Wild. His season has started slowly this year but he’s picked up his game in recent weeks and GM Chuck Fletcher might try to sell high on the former first-round pick.
Devin Setoguchi’s best offensive season came as a 22-year-old with the San Jose Sharks. Taking a regular shift in a very talented top-6, he put up 31 goals and 65 points, nothing to sneeze at for a second-line winger. His production dipped to a more modest 20 goal average in seasons since, and being with offensively-inept Wild last year hurt his point total.
Setoguchi isn’t going to carry an offense by any means, but if the Penguins are looking for a complementary forward with a reasonable cap hit who isn’t afraid to throw his body around or put shots to the net, Devin Setoguchi fits the bill. He plays a style of hockey Dan Bylsma takes a liking to. It certainly doesn’t hurt negotiations that Fletcher was once Shero’s assistant and they might be a little more open to chatting.
Why the Penguins won’t get him: As stated above, Setoguchi has gotten hot over the past few weeks. If he’s contributing to the Wild’s efforts to return to playoffs, Fletcher isn’t going to be too eager to ship him out. Fatigue is an issue for everyone in this truncated season, and having a few extra bodies on hand is a luxury the Wild haven’t had in the recent past and they may not be so keen on giving it up.
The other thing that might keep Setoguchi in Minnesota is Dany Heatley. Heatley hasn’t been anything special for the Wild, and since bringing in Zach Parise, he veteran leadership isn’t quite as important for the Wild’s crop of young forwards. Given that Devin Setoguchi is making a modest $3 million in comparison to Heatley’s mammoth $7.5m cap hit, Heatley could very easily be bought out by the Wild this summer to save some cap room. In that case, they may want to hang on to Setoguchi to be one of those veteran linemates for any of their young forwards who might make the team next year.
From the Penguins’ point of view, that extra year on Setoguchi’s contract might be a deal breaker. While that cap hit is certainly manageable, Shero is going to need maximum flexibility this summer with the cap coming down and new contracts coming for Malkin and Letang. Setoguchi’s $3 million cap hit won’t help that cause, especially when Beau Bennett’s entry level deal is only worth $900,000 against the cap. That $2.1 million difference could end up being the difference between re-signing Kris Letang and paving his way out of town. Shero isn’t going to handcuff himself when it comes to his “other” star forward or his most prized defenseman.
Setoguchi is a player who could fit in very well if he came to Pittsburgh, but who knows if either GM wants to make that kind of move? What do you think; would you want to see Devin Setoguchi in black and gold this season? If so, what would you give up for him?
Brian is on Twitter, @BlitzburghBrian