The NHL trade deadline, as seemingly always, was a wonderfully frenetic mess of trades going down. The Penguins were in on their share of the excitement, nabbing Patrick Marleau for a draft pick, then going a little outside of the box to send Dominik Kahun to Buffalo in exchange for two forwards in Conor Sheary and Evan Rodrigues.
In the immediate-term, just look at this forward group the Penguins used yesterday:
Understandably enough, it’s sort of been lost in the shuffle that Andrew Agozzino has departed the organization. The Pens waived him in hopes of having him on the AHL roster today (the deadline to be eligible for their playoffs) but Anaheim dashed those hopes by claiming Agozzino.
In the immediate, short-term vein, adding three forwards and losing no one out of the graphic above — Kahun has been a scratch as a result of blocking a shot, remember — is a positive to add more NHL caliber skill and more depth and balance.
In the longer term, as we wrote last week, the Pens often group forwards together as pairs, and shuffle around third pieces to find fits based on which players are playing well. Here’s the blueprint:
Jason Zucker - Sidney Crosby - AAAAAA
BBBBBB - Evgeni Malkin - Bryan Rust
CCCCCC - DDDDDD - Patric Hornqvist
Zach Aston-Reese - Teddy Blueger - Brandon Tanev
The only thing that has changed is the pieces are different. Kahun was fairing pretty well on the Malkin line for a bit, but has been swapped out for Conor Sheary and Evan Rodrigues. Sheary could be an “A” or a “C” above. Rodrigues too, I suppose. Veteran forward Patrick Marleau could be any letter in the alphabet.
There’s also Jared McCann, Dominik Simon and the injured Nick Bjugstad who could be in the mix too when he’s able to return. For now, Aston-Reese is injured which will at least give more time to figure things out.
The Pens have a lot of choices and options moving forward, which must be music to Mike Sullivan’s years after being so injury-riddled and often playing a full fourth line of not very good players.
In a way, this deadline is reminiscent of 2009 under Ray Shero. That February, Crosby got two new wingers in the form of Bill Guerin and Chris Kunitz. In 2020, Zucker is the new Kunitz adjacent player. Is Marleau destined to be the new age Guerin? Could well be.