When you give up the guy with the higher ceiling

NHL trade deadline Penguins gamble on Be

When you give up the guy with the higher ceiling, your odds of winning the trade arent great. That needs to be said straight away. The Penguins did just that on Monday and it wascompletely understandable, if not perfectly executed.

Headed to Anaheim: defenseman Simon Despres. Returning to Pittsburgh: Ben Lovejoy, who the Penguins sent to Anaheim for a fifth-round pick in 2012.

MORE: Analysis of the deadline's biggest moves

The move, combined with the acquisition of Ian Cole for Robert Bortuzzo, leaves Pittsburgh with a rebuilt, theoretically more reliable defensive corps. Giving up Despres, whos big, mobile and 23 with a growing resume, isnt ideal but Lovejoy, GM Jim Rutherford implied, couples lower upside with increased reliability.

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"We were concerned about the experience about our defense and we were looking to upgrade it a little bit, he said after the deadline.

Pittsburghs seven defensemen moving forward are Kris Letang, Paul Martin, Christian Ehrhoff (a suming hes healthy), Cole, Lovejoy and Rob Scuderi.

Cole is an obvious upgrade on Bortuzzo; he performed well in third-pairing minutes for the Blues throughout the season. The Despres-Lovejoy swap is a tougher sell for Rutherford.

Inone Kevan Miller Jersey regard, it makes sense. Despres (eye test alert) has looked worse lately, and the numbers back that up.

His 10-game rolling shot-attempt percentage, specifically, has trended downward for the last month. In other words, Pittsburgh has controlled the puck le s and le s with him on the ice (via war-on-ice).

Is it a a small sample size? Unquestionably. Its relevant to a win-now team, though; you cant regularly play a guy you dont trust. The problem for Pittsburgh, though, is that Lovejoy is in the middle of his own dip.

If youre going to judge on small sample sizes, you might as well be consistent about Anton Khudobin Jersey it.

Really, Despres biggest problem was that his mistakes were obvious, as tends to be the case with talented defensemen; they try stuff others wouldnt, and sometimes it doesnt pay off. Lovejoy, over the last few years, has managed to avoid those enough for the Penguins to target him. Ironically, that wasnt always the case (skip to 9:55).

The big picture view: Given the development of Derrick Pouliot, the continued presence of prospects Scott Harrington and Brian Dumoulin and the fact that the injured Olli Maatta had been a top-four defenseman since the day he stepped on the ice, Pittsburgh could afford to roll the dice with Despres on a win-now trade. Theres no shortage of future options.

The question, really, is whether Lovejoy, 31, is actually any more reliable. Hes good enough to play regular minutes on a contending team; right now, on March 2, he just might not represent much more than a lateral move and down the road, it could look worse.

For the Penguins sake Tim Schaller Jersey , though, he should try to avoid any huge mistakes in the playoffs. They won't know whether Despres could've done the same.