In what promises to be a summer of change, it didn’t take long for the first national whisper or rumor about the Penguins’ potential moves to come to the surface. It happened yesterday in a conversation between Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek as they discussed an off-the-cuff type of an idea for the Pens. And it’s a player they’ve seen recently in Max Domi.
Friedman: "Here's an early bet as to who could be a Penguin next year: Max Domi."— NHL Watcher (@NHL_Watcher) August 13, 2020
Marek mentions how the Domi family and Lemieux family are close, it kind of lines up, it makes sense, he would not be surprised by that at all.#GoHabsGo #LetsGoPens
Domi is a pending restricted free agent. This isn’t the first time he’s been tied to Pittsburgh, and likely is the type of player the Pens would covet. As Marek mentioned, Tie Domi is a regular visitor for Penguin games in Mario Lemieux’s owner box and friend of the big guy. Domi also has participated in Mario’s fantasy camps, making him a rare non-Penguin NHL alumni to do so.
Lemieux isn’t the general manager of the team and doesn’t control at that level, but would surely be pleased by adding a player like Max Domi.
The issue would be how to make it happen. Domi, 25, is coming off a $3.1 million annual salary and has arbitration rights. He had a decent season scoring 44 points (17 goals + 27 assists in 71 games), but it was a step-back from a star turn in 2018-19 when Domi recorded 71 points (28G+44A) in 82 games.
The Canadiens have been using Domi on their fourth line all playoffs thus far, interestingly enough. It does seem at this point younger centers in Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Nick Suzuki have passed Domi up on the depth chart, with the team also employing a solid center in Phillip Danault. If Kotkaniemi and Suzuki are both ready for prime time and performing well, it does stand to figure that paying a premium salary for Domi might not be on the agenda or best way to manage their roster.
That said, teams don’t just giveaway 25 year old forwards one year off a 70+ point season. The Pens likely won’t get Domi by offering Jared McCann and a prospect or something along those lines, as that would only immediately weaken an ascending Canadien club.
Often times though, where there is a will there is a way. Would Montreal bite on taking McCann or Nick Bjugstad and the Pens’ first round pick this season in exchange for Domi? Would the Pens even want to dangle that much for a player in Domi who would be on his third contract and a couple years out from unrestricted free agency?
Right now this is way off the radar, especially since Domi and the Habs are still actively participating in the playoffs. Just some idle offseason chatter, but it’s fun to consider as such. A sparkplug like Domi who brings energy and some skill would spice up the Pens’ lineup. For the right trade price, surely Pittsburgh would be interested.
What an acceptable price would be for Montreal, if they’re even interested in the first place in considering such a move is totally unknown. They might well be content to stay in their lane, and have plenty of cap space to re-sign Domi and keep him in their group for the years to come.
This offseason will be sure to have plenty of whispers and talks of what moves the Pens may or may not be interested, this opening salvo is probably not the final course Pittsburgh will chart. But there’s now plenty of time to think and dream up the best possible additions that might be floating around, and Domi looks like he’s first up on the list.