When Stanley Cup contenders go to market at the deadline, picks and prospects are the currency used to extract quality free-agents-to-be for a four month rental.
The Pittsburgh Penguins and GM Ray Shero are loaded with defensive prospects this year, and chances are the young players they have to offer with fetch a handsome price.
SIMON DESPRES, 6.04, 214, 22 years old
This player card is from Extra skater, and shows some offense and a nice shot differential. Now, he's doing this against softer opponents, but that's just good business. At Despres' age, there's every chance he can develop into a strong top 4D at even strength and a PK option. He may end up being a "shutdown" defenseman if an acquiring team is lucky, and he's certainly worth the role of the dice.
The Penguins have about 10 other options and Paul Martin returning, plus they badly need some forwards to play with all those elite centermen (well, two centermen but they're certainly elite).
There are troubles with this player, he stumbled this year (despite the numbers) trying to move up the pecking order. This is the exact moment when a smart team might strike, add the player for a rental and perhaps end up with the modern Jason Smith.
The deadline seldom offers a prospect that can actually play, and there are NHL teams dying for useful defensemen. Despres could be nothing, the highlight of his NHL career behind him, and the rental sent will be remembered as a man sent away in error.
However, he could also be a quality addition to a team on the rise, purchased for a mere few weeks of a pending free agent.
If he's available, I bet someone takes the chance.