The NHL trade deadline is less than a week away, the Penguins are currently sitting just out of 1st place in the Metropolitan Division, and they're playing the brand of hockey that you want to be playing this time of year. Which leads you to ask the question: what do the Penguins need to do at the deadline and what kind of players should they be pursuing?
Over the past 3 years of assembling a team that has won the Stanley Cup in back-to-back seasons, Jim Rutherford’s bigger moves and acquisitions of key players have happened more in the summer (Phil Kessel) or earlier in the season than at the deadline (Carl Hagelin).
Trade prices tend to be higher at the deadline, so it makes sense to try and deal earlier. The Penguins will definitely make a move of some sort, looking to add depth to bolster their roster headed into the playoffs.
With the Rangers in full-scale fire-sale mode, you can expect almost any player to be available from New York. The 30-year old pending free-agent is definitely going to be one of them.
Jason Mackey discussed this in his weekly ‘20 Thoughts piece’ and provided some good insight.
Another name being discussed right now by Penguins fans is Michael Grabner of the New York Rangers.
Super fast wing. Has 25 goals. Makes just $1.65 million on a Rangers team that’s about to get dismantled. Grabner would be a terrific fit … if the Rangers were willing to deal with the Penguins.
I think Grabner would be a great depth addition and his speed would make the Penguins a difficult opponent to deal with. Imagine having Phil Kessel, Carl Hagelin, and Michael Grabner all on separate lines. Phew.
With that said, I am guessing that the Rangers will want the Penguins to pay an in-division premium price that a non-Metro/non-rival team won't have to pay. If a first-round pick is going to be needed to make a deal, I’d save it for bigger and better things.
And here is a bigger and better thing.
2. The Penguins have reportedly expressed interest in Derick Brassard, but it’s important to remember interest and imminent are two very different words that start with the same letter.
The ask for Brassard is not small, perhaps a first-round pick, Daniel Sprong, an NHL regular and maybe more. The Penguins, meanwhile, continue to watch Riley Sheahan’s offensive game grow.
Rutherford has publicly acknowledged that Sheahan is likely going to be the Penguins’ third-line center here moving forward, but he’s smart enough to not close any doors; what if Brassard comes dirt cheap?
Speaking of dirt cheap, Senators owner and CEO Eugene Melnyk could be the key to getting a deal done here. The Senators will likely dump cash any way possible. If I’m the Penguins and can make it work under the cap, I absolutely do it. Stacking down the middle with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Derick Brassard, and Riley Sheahan would again give the Penguins the center depth that could put them in the Stanley Cup Final for a third consecutive season.