The NHL trade deadline came and went at 3 PM, with the Penguins just making the one trade in the form of adding forward Jeff Carter from the Kings late last night. After seeing out the deadline, general manager Ron Hextall and President of Hockey Operations Brian Burke talked about what went down, and also gave some information about some injured players.
Hextall lands his guy in Carter
It took almost a month of work for Ron Hextall to get Jeff Carter to the Pens. Carter doesn’t have a formal no trade clause written into his contract, but as a respected veteran who had been in Los Angeles for almost a decade, he also saw still saw himself finishing his playing career with the Kings.
However, Hextall came calling last month to plant the bug with Carter and reached out to make this deal happen.
GM Ron Hextall on talking to Jeff Carter after the trade: "I talked to him last night around 1:30 AM our time. He was in a terrific mood. His exact words to me were, 'I'm all in. I can't wait to get there.'"— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) April 12, 2021
Other than Carter, the Pens didn’t make any additional moves, and weren’t that close to anything else.
“There’s nothing else coming,” Hextall said after the deadline. “We weren’t really close on anything else. We dabbled in some things and had a couple calls about some of our players, but we felt good about our team.”
Earlier in the day, Burke said pretty much the same thing — connecting the above and below statement and it looks clear that the front office didn’t want to split up this current group or make major external changes at this time. Pittsburgh is 22-8-1 since Hextall and Burke were hired on February 7th, despite dealing with extreme injury issues, so it’s easy to see why they weren’t in a hurry to make major moves during the middle of this season.
“We believe this team is capable of making some noise, especially adding Jeff,” Burke said. We had chances to move some guys out and refused to do so. These guys have worked so hard. We’ve got good chemistry and we’ll start getting healthy here pretty soon.”
The brass is excited by the addition of Carter, who can play center or wing on a variety of different lines and has a ton of experience to add to their mix.
President of Hockey Operations Brian Burke on @JeffCarter_77 coming to the Penguins: "He's getting on a plane in the next two hours to head here. He is a versatile guy that can play at wing or center. We're really excited about him."— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) April 12, 2021
“The team made us think long and hard about where we’re at and what area we could try to get better to give us a better chance to make the playoffs and then have success in the playoffs,” Hextall said. “Acquiring Jeff is really a credit to the job that our players have done.”
“We felt like it was enough of an upgrade,” Hextall continued. “Our team has done a very good job through a tremendous amount of injuries to key players. We’ve had a lot of guys step up and we felt like they’ve done a good enough job.”
As Hextall mentioned, another reason the Penguins don’t have to make a lot of trades now is that they can bolster their lineup with players from the injured reserve. Several key players are on there and Hextall offered some injury updates. A much appreciated move since coach Mike Sullivan doesn’t often deal in the specifics or often give many time details.
- The best news sounded like it was Kasperi Kapanen’s situation. Hextall said Kapanen could return in 10-14 days.
- While Evgeni Malkin is skating, Hextall called his injury “tougher to gauge” but did say again (as Sullivan has earlier) that the Pens are still expecting Malkin to return before the start of the playoffs.
- The worst news came about Brandon Tanev, the Pens do not expect him to return in the regular season.
- Hextall did not know about the status of Frederick Gaudreau, who got hurt in the game last night against the Devils.
In the end, the Pens’ brass seems pretty content with what they accomplished at the deadline.
“The word ‘chemistry’ is a big part of all this,” Hextall said. “The chemistry this group has now and has had the entire year is special. We weren’t going to add a depth player, so to speak. If we were going to add a player, we were going to add one to make an impact.”
Then again, everyone is always happy on deadline day. Carter should be on the ice as soon as tomorrow at practice with his new team. We’ll see how and where he fits in right off the bat as he starts on the next chapter of his career and as the Pens look to keep building for a playoff run.