With less than 24 hours to go before the NHL trade deadline, the Pittsburgh Penguins are working on starting their moves. In what would be his first trade as the Pens’ general manger, Ron Hextall has targeted acquiring 6’3, 220 pound left winger Nicolas Deslauriers from the Anaheim Ducks.
The deal isn’t done yet, per Elliotte Friedman, but it sounds like the teams are working to finalize and complete a move to send Deslauriers to Pittsburgh.
Hearing Nicolas Deslauriers from ANA to PIT— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) April 11, 2021
Let me pull that back...discussions between ANA/PIT on Deslauriers. Nothing done.— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) April 11, 2021
Since the deal isn’t done as of now, it remains unknown about what the Pens would have to give up for Deslauriers just quite yet. But we do know the 30-year old winger has a contract with a $1.0 million cap hit for this season and next.
Hextall and President of Hockey Operations Brian Burke had made no secret of their desire to add a big and physical forward, and Deslauriers certainly fits the bill there to add some size to what is a smallish Pittsburgh team, if he’s indeed acquired.
However, Deslauriers also isn’t really that good of a hockey player. He can drive OK defensive metrics, but as a 411 game NHL career with 35 goals and 70 points suggests, he’s of almost no value when it comes to generating offense, and his WAR% rating over the past three seasons has Deslauriers as one of the worst forwards in the league.
While he’s not that good at hockey, and doesn’t even kill penalties for Anaheim, Deslauriers does throw his body around, he’s credited with 102 hits in 35 games this season with the Ducks. Only two Penguins (the injured Brandon Tanev and Sam Lafferty) have over 60 hits this season.
It will be interesting to see where Deslauriers would fit in the Pens’ lineup. With injuries to Tanev and Kasperi Kapanen, there’s at least a short term window where the team can use a big, physical, energetic forward.
However, Deslauriers isn’t going to bring a lot of actual tangible attributes to the ice to help the team win, and he has a contract for next year at a $1.0 million hit. That’s not great, at best, and a drag on the team’s bottom line at a minimum.
It depends on what Pittsburgh has given up as to how this will shake out, but other than throwing a few more hits, it remains to be seen what Deslauriers will provide that players like Radim Zohorna and Anthony Angello wouldn’t. Deslauriers doesn’t seem like a type good enough to make the Pens’ playoff lineup if they have health, but they know (and we don’t know) just how long Tanev and Kapanen will be on the shelf.
At worst Deslauriers is depth and an extra big body. But if the Penguins are actually expecting him to contribute or play any kind of role when the games matter, they’re likely to find this move, despite adding a big body, will come up short for positive contributions.
If Pittsburgh really makes this move, they shouldn’t be giving up a lot. Players like Deslauriers don’t move the needle, and his contract status for next year makes him even more undesirable of an all-around asset.