When I was a kid we had a rule that you asked Santa for three ?big ? gifts. He would bring those and then usually a few smaller things and obviously fill your stocking. One year I got a bike, a boom box, and a selection of the most popular music (Backstreet Boys, N’Sync, Britney Spears) among other things.
This year at TPOP we ?re doing some Christmas wish lists for our teams. Obviously, I ?m writing the Pittsburgh Penguins letter to Ole Saint Nick. I can think of many things I ?d like the Penguins to have this year for Christmas but, like when I was a kid, I ?m sticking to my rule and only asking for three.
A top four defenseman
Jim Rutherford got the Penguins an early present when he traded Rob Scuderi. That was very nice of him. And while the return, one Trevor Daley, is going to add something to the team, he isn ?t a top four defenseman. So that ?s my number one wish. Now I just wrote ?a top four defenseman ? for a reason. First of all, because if he ?s ready, I think this is a spot for Derrick Pouliot. Now, Pouliot is faring well in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, but that doesn ?t mean he ?s going to be ready tomorrow. The team is being very careful not to do what they did with Beau Bennett and bring him up just to flounder. Luckily, the guy behind the Penguins’ bench now spent two months working with and coaching Pouliot so he should be able to have some sort of feel.
If a defenseman is to be had in a trade, I like the looks of guys like Tyson Barrie or Cody Franson. Both, of course, would cost talent and both, of course, would only be short term. Whether or not you keep either one is up in the air, but hey if I ?m asking for something for Christmas those are the names I ?m looking at.
A Healthy Team
The Pittsburgh Penguins have the worst injury luck. Sure, last season Columbus took the title in most man-games lost but before that? Every single season since 2010-2011 the team lost players for extended periods of time so often it was easy to forget they were even on the team. They also seem to have the most bizarre injuries, too. From blood clots, to cancer, to broken vertebrae and strokes, no normal injuries will be had if you play for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
So that ?s what I want as my second gift. A healthy team. A healthy team with garden variety injuries, please. I ?m talking high ankle sprain, upper body, or lower body stuff here. How long it takes to come back from an upper body injury like Kris Letang ?s 2-4 weeks is a pain, but it sure beats missing the rest of the year.
A Hot Sidney Crosby
When the Pittsburgh Pirates struggled early last season, Andrew McCutchen was struggling. He was dealing with a nagging knee injury and as it healed, he improved and seemingly so did the team. Now, I don ?t think there ?s anything wrong with Crosby and I don ?t think he isn ?t trying his hardest. But yeah, Santa, for Christmas can you bring a nice long streak for the captain?
And when I say a streak I ?m talking, blow Patrick Kane out of the water type of streak. I ?m talking set the league on fire streak. I ?m talking Evgeni Malkin after Christmas in 2011-2012 kind of streak. Or the streak Crosby was on prior to the 2011 Winter Classic. It feels like it ?s been ages since Sid has had one like that and I think, with all he does and all the work he puts in, he ?s due.
I would love if Santa also brought David Perron a faster shot, a resurgent Patric Hornqvist and a whole lot of other awesome stuff but those are the big ones. If the Penguins can get those three things for Christmas I think they ?ll have a much better second half of the season than they did first.