Do the Pittsburgh Penguins have another player in mind when trying to find a more suitable third-line center?
A name that is being tossed around right now is that of Montreal Canadiens center, Alex Galchenyuk. TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger said this much on Thursday night:
“Jim Rutherford and the Pittsburgh Penguins are in the market for a centre and he has been for quite some time, I would say. Just augment what they have in considerable talent up the middle of the ice there. There’s been some speculation as to who might be available as to players who aren’t and Matt Duchene probably isn’t a great fit financially for the Pittsburgh Penguins. But Alex Galchenyuk from the Montreal Canadiens, his name has surfaced. We shouldn’t be overly surprised by that, again given the fact that more often than not Galchenyuk seems to be in the doghouse there and given the play of the Montreal Canadiens as of late, perhaps there’s a fit there that could make some sense.”
This is all fine and good, but can it realistically happen? Let’s take a look.
From the Canadiens Perspective: The Montreal Canadiens have started the season with a 1-5-1 record, which is good for last in the Atlantic Division. If this ball keeps rolling, the Canadiens may become desperate enough to deal the former 30-goal scorer sooner rather than later.
Galchenyuk’s role with the club has also been diminished under Claude Julien’s watch, with Galchenyuk being demoted to the 4th line during last year’s playoff run. Fast forward to this year, and Galchenyuk has amassed one measly goal through 7 games, and that is with the presence Max Pacioretty and Jonathan Drouin alongside him.
The production just hasn't been there for the Wisconsin native, but looking at Galchenyuk’s past, there’s reason for optimism that he may find his scoring touch once again. Galchenyuk found the back of the net 20 times the 2014-15 season and followed that campaign up with a 30-goal season in 2015-16.
What would Montreal want in return: Well, outside of veteran defenseman, Shea Weber, the Habs don't really have a defense. They signed former Capital Karl Alzner in the offseason to a five-year deal, but that’s just about it. Remember Joe Morrow? He’s also one of their top six defenders!
Montreal would almost certainly be looking for another defender. The Penguins must also examine the salary cap implications. As of today, the Pens have roughly $2 million to work with. If Montreal is not going to eat some of Galch’s $4.9 million contract, then Pittsburgh would need to send someone back.
Moving Olli Maatta and his cap hit of $4 million per year could make sense for both sides. Pittsburgh has some serviceable defensive depth and younger prospects like Ethan Prow, Frank Corrado, or Lukas Bengtsson could be given an extended look with the big club.
If it’s forwards the Canadiens after, centers seem to be an ongoing issue for them. They may be looking to trade Galchenyuk in the first place due to needing more down the middle. Obviously this isn’t a fit with Pittsburgh, who have no depth forwards to trade.
Promising prospect, Daniel Sprong, could also come up, one would think, being one of few valuable trading chips that Pittsburgh has.
As it stands now: This story may soon fall by the wayside and the Penguins may just be “kicking the tires” on the 24-year-old, but if one thing is known about General Manger Jim Rutherford, it’s that he does not shy away from a good trade.
Acquiring a player like Galchenyuk and taking his past, his present, and his future into consideration, the Penguins could be set down the middle for years to come, should the price be right.
One other familiar name has been in the mix too, with the Detroit Red Wings agreeing to a contract with winger Andreas Athanasiou. Before they can register this signing with the league, they must make a trade or some demotions.
DET and PIT were reportedly close to a Riley Sheahan trade in off-season. Nothing imminent or assured there right now, though.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) October 20, 2017
Not saying a Sheahan to PIT deal couldn't be revived but PIT is exploring multiple options to get a depth centre so anything is possible.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) October 20, 2017
The rumored deal was the Pens sending Derrick Pouliot (and possible more) to Detroit for Sheahan. Pittsburgh, however, couldn’t wait for Detroit forever and had to get under the 23-man roster after training camp, so they traded Pouliot to Vancouver for a 4th round pick.
Interestingly, if Sheahan is traded soon, it will almost certainly be for a draft pick or future prospect since they’re at the cap limit. Maybe that 4th could be in play? Rutherford half-jokingly mentioned that he might end up trading that pick, and perhaps that could come to light.
Now the questions circle back to the old debate: is Sheahan an upgrade on Greg McKegg and Carter Rowney? Should the Pens just stay patient and wait for their un-named “other candidates” to possibly go on the block? Just what would Detroit be willing to let Sheahan go for? Perhaps by next week some of these answers will be known.