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Bracing for the annual Penguins summer trade

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If it’s the NHL draft, chances are it’s time for the Penguins to make a big trade

Pittsburgh Penguins v Arizona Coyotes Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Almost every summer at about this time of year since taking over in 2014, general manager Jim Rutherford has made a splash for the Penguins in the form of a trade. First he added Patric Hornqvist. The following summer it was Phil Kessel. Last year it was Ryan Reaves.

As the NHL Draft approaches on Friday night, it’s one of the most active nights traditionally in the league. According to Josh Yohe at The Athletic, it looks like Rutherford is about to get at it again with some of these quotes.

“We need to get deeper. That’s a big goal for us right now. I want more balance throughout our lineup.”

“I’m not going to make a trade just to make one. If something makes sense, then we’ll do it. But I don’t feel the absolute need to do something. We’re already a contender and I know that. But yes, I’d like to do something to make us even better.”

It was widely reported the Pens were involved in trade negotiations with Arizona for Max Domi, who was traded last week to Montreal for Alex Galchenyuk. Surely Pittsburgh had nothing to rival the offer of Galchenyuk, so it’s not surprising Domi isn’t going to be a Penguin.

Now that Domi (and Galchenyuk too) are off the trade table it will be interesting to see where the Pens go. One would think Pittsburgh should be looking for an upgrade on the wing.

Luckily, Rutherford repeated that he feels he’s in the drivers seat.

“I don’t have to do anything. If I don’t do anything this summer, we’re still a contending team. We absolutely needed to get a full summer off. We didn’t want it, but our guys needed it. There’s no question in my mind about that. So, we’ll be in good shape even if we don’t bring anyone in.”

This is good, there shouldn’t be any urges just to make a trade to make a trade. Rutherford, like all GMs wants a deeper, better, faster, bigger, stronger, leaner, meaner team. But it’s important to remember the roster he already has would be the envy of just about anyone with a top-9 of Jake Guentzel, Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, Carl Hagelin, Sheary, Rust, Derick Brassard plus Zach Aston-Reese, Daniel Sprong, Dominik Simon and Riley Sheahan too.

And, if the Pens are trading, one (or more) of those names are out the door. One would think guys like Bryan Rust and Conor Sheary could be the most likely trade candidates to hit a sweet-spot of having value around the league but also being in a spot that Pittsburgh would probably consider trading.

With Rutherford you never really know what will happen, but we do have a pretty good idea when it will happen. Look for something to go down pretty soon, if not this weekend then certainly before too long into the summer.

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Yohe also asked Rutherford about Jake Guentzel. The talented youngster has one more year on his contract, but the Pens could sign him as of July 1 to an extension that would kick in for 2019-20. Unfortunately though it looks like this isn’t in the plans.

“We have other guys to worry about this summer.”

That is too bad, as the comparables say young 1st line players that go into their 3rd year of their entry level contract without an extension usually make a lot more money on their next contract (David Pastrnak, Johnny Gaudreau) than those who get locked up early (Viktor Arvidsson).

If Guentzel scores 60+ points next season he could be in-line to command $6+ million on his next deal, based on recent history of his peers. There would be little down-side to taking care of that extension now, but it looks like the Pens are just going to worry about that problem next summer when they get to it.