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NHL Draft and Trades, best targets for the Pens: Jeff Skinner, Wayne Simmonds?

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Tonight is the night, will the Penguins pull the trigger on a trade?

NHL: Carolina Hurricanes at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

It’s NHL draft day, which means the typical first big trade night of the off-season. Let’s discuss some possibilities, news, rumors and what the Penguins might be looking to do tonight as they aim to improve their team this summer.

What’s on the block

If you believe reports, the Pens were talking to the Arizona Coyotes about Max Domi. Pittsburgh was reporting to dangle names like Bryan Rust, Conor Sheary and Dominik Simon - possibly willing to trade two of them to bring back Domi. Negotiations surely didn’t advance too far beyond typical NHL chatter, and for good reason. Arizona ended up dealing Domi to Montreal for Alex Galchenyuk; a far superior return to what the Pens were in the hunt for.

One would think Matt Hunwick could be available as well after a rough season. But with two more years on his contract and Hunwick turning 33 last month, his trade value must be low, if existent at all.

One thing to not expect is a Phil Kessel trade. As GM Jim Rutherford said about the media-driven trade “talk” surrounding Kessel, “This is something that I believe has been blown out of proportion.”

Rutherford has also not talked to Kessel’s agent about a potential trade. Kessel maintains a 23-team no trade list so co-ordination between the Pens front office and Kessel’s representation would likely be necessary to facilitate a trade. That it hasn’t happened to this point is another clear sign that Rutherford doesn’t feel action is happening at this point.

What’s out in the news

Per Pierre LeBrun, the Pens have had talks with the Carolina Hurricanes about Jeff Skinner, who is heavily rumored to be traded this summer.


This makes sense, there are limited top-6 wingers available and Skinner certainly is one. Rutherford also drafted him back in 2010 and had him for four years, so it’s a player he knows very well.

Carolina is definitely the “wild card” team this off-season, with a new owner bent on driving change and shaking up a complacent core. Skinner, 26, has one year left one his contract at $5.75 million and is set to be an unrestricted free agent next summer. Aside from his age, all of those particulars of the situation are less than ideal for the Pens, who don’t have much cap room and probably won’t want to pay for an asset for only one season before potentially/likely losing him to free agency.

Trade price seems sticky too. Rust+Simon or Sheary+something doesn’t seem like a ton of value for a more skilled player in Skinner. Still, all the assets the Pens are offering are young and more inexpensive and that may be of interest. I wouldn’t pick out a Skinner #53 Pens jersey just yet, but it makes 100% sense this is a player that will be discussed and has a possibility of being traded. Obviously though, other teams know this too and are talking to the Canes, and likely just like the Domi situation one of them will probably have a better offer to dangle out there.

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Throwing this out there to jam up Flyers fans and Pens fans alike...

Granted, Philly wanted to charge an unnecessarily high price to Pittsburgh in 2017 for a rental defenseman in Mark Streit who was like 100 years old and not even that effective any longer. The Pens only got Streit when Philly dealt the vet to Tampa and then as Rutherford said with a smirk, “the price ended up coming down”.

So I don’t foresee the Flyers trading a useful, important, very good player like Wayne Simmonds to Pittsburgh under any circumstances. Pittsburgh would have to work with a 3rd party; something they’ve done recently with Vegas to get Derick Brassard. It’s possible but complicated. Complicated usually doesn’t come to fruition, this is more of a dream. But, again, there are only so many good wingers on the trade market, all possibilities need to be explored.

Aside from those unrealistic truths, Pittsburgh doesn’t need another RW. Simmonds is also a “blood and guts” type warrior, net-front, hard-nosed player and the Pens already have that exact same guy in Patric Hornqvist, lessening the need even further.

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Also from the Friedman link above:

“7. It’s believed Minnesota has asked teams interested in Charlie Coyle, Nino Niederreiter and Jason Zucker to take Tyler Ennis as part of the package.”

If this is the case and the Wild do not budge, you can cancel any hopes and dreams of Minnesota and Pittsburgh making a trade. A guy like Charlie Coyle or Jason Zucker would look good in Pittsburgh, but the Pens just can’t support taking on Tyler Ennis who has one more year on his contract at $4.6 million.

Zucker, an RFA coming off a 33 goal season probably isn’t getting traded for the Rust/Sheary/Daniel Sprong/Carl Hagelin types, so Pittsburgh again runs into a familiar issue on the trade market: just not enough actionable trading chips to offer up.

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Title this section, “whatever is happening in Montreal”

The Pens don’t have a ton to offer in terms of a center or defenseman. It’s unlikely they’ll want to trade one of Brassard or Riley Sheahan - two players they worked hard to acquire last season, and ones that if traded would revert back to the initial problem they solved by fixing center depth in the first place.

But the Canadiens seem to be in a weird spot, and make some curious trades. Could this be a landing spot for Hunwick? They probably remember that he played pretty well for Toronto in 2016-17. Crazier things have happened.

I have no idea how the trade value would work, but TSN says “keep an eye on Max Pacioretty” this weekend for MTL potentially looking to move their captain. Keep an eye indeed.

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Los Angeleze

Quoth LeBrun on Los Angeles, “The Kings have made no bones about the fact they’re on the lookout for a top-six, offensive upgrade....Whatever form that player takes, GM Rob Blake is on a mission to add some offence.”

Sheary scored 53 points in 61 games two seasons ago! Rust could score 20 if he could stay healthy! Not sure what the return would be, this is included just as a spot that might be active and aggressive to add NHL offense. Pittsburgh has a bit of that to offer.

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The league is very active tonight and there should be a flurry of transactions made besides just 31 draft picks. It remains to be seen if the Penguins can get in on anything, but one thing for sure is that it won’t be for a lack of working the phones and attempting to make some moves.