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Penguins trade rumors: Pittsburgh in the hunt for Pacioretty?

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Montreal rumored to still be looking to trade their captain

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NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Montreal Canadiens Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

With most of the big names now off of the free agent market, attention has switched back to the trade rumor mill for potential movement of difference making players. As we noted, Jeff Skinner is a name that probably will be traded and one that makes a lot of sense for Pittsburgh.

Another name that hasn’t quite gone away is Max Pacioretty of the Montreal Canadiens.

Pacioretty was said to be close to traded to the Los Angeles Kings at the draft last month, but the deal fell through. The Athletic summed up his situation with Montreal as this:

Except at this point, Bergevin has surely realized Pacioretty’s trade value is not as high as he believed it to be. And Pacioretty, who was unable to agree on a contract extension with the Los Angeles Kings that would have facilitated a trade, must also realize the long-term, big money contract he seeks is not out there either. Think about it, he turned down a chance to play on Anze Kopitar’s left wing because of the contract he believes he will eventually sign

If Pacioretty is seeking big money, he’s probably not a great fit for the Penguins- who don’t have a ton of future cap space available. Add in the high cost of a trade (likely it would cost at least a couple top assets like the 2019 1st round pick, Daniel Sprong, Derick Brassard, etc) and that makes even less sense for Pittsburgh to meet a high trade price for a player they likely wouldn’t afford past 2019 anyways.

It’s been very odd all along how the Pacioretty and MTL drama has played out. It’s good that Pittsburgh keeps inquiring about the player to see what the price would be, but both in terms of trade cost and only having one year left on his contract, Pacioretty and Pittsburgh don’t look like a great fit at this point. Maybe if Montreal does keep him this could be something to circle back to towards the trade deadline if they are out of the hunt and looking to deal.

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Here’s something that is good news- the Pens have 3 players going to Team Canada’s World Junior camp this summer. They are the recently drafted defenseman Calen Addison and forward Justin Almeida, as well as undrafted free agent signing Jordy Bellerive.

Pittsburgh has lacked top prospects and hasn’t had a player sniff a major WJC roster like Canada or USA since the days of Derrick Pouliot, so seeing a few prospects in the mix is a good sign that they at least have a couple of well-regarded and talented players in their age groups for a change.

It’s also funny to see that literally every player (except the one kid who is not eligible until 2019) there is a 1st, 2nd or 3rd round draft pick, which makes a lot of sense being as guys are drafted at 17-18 and this is the best talent that’s 18-19 years old in Canada. Naturally all of those guys are going to be high picks. Except Bellerive. He’s the only one there who went undrafted. Very bizarre how 13 months ago the whole league whiffs on him, now he’s a premier player. Great find there for Pittsburgh.

It remains to be seen if any of the three will make the roster, but for now it’s encouraging enough for a bleak base of prospects to at least have some players in the hunt.