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Talking John Gibson and the Penguins...Hypothetically and otherwise

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He’s from here!

Anaheim Ducks v Pittsburgh Penguins Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images

The Penguins need a goalie upgrade. It’s been discussed now by Elliotte Friedman as a likely course that the team is going to take and...it’s easy to see why. Goaltending let them down mightily in the playoffs. With the years going quickly on Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh can’t just hope Tristan Jarry figures it out. Certainly not at age 26 and after playing 102 career NHL games that gives him an average profile (.911 save%).

We talked about the possible goalies who could be headed to free agency or be trade options last week. We’ll probably talk about it again next week.

The name at the top of the heap, for me anyways, would be John Gibson. Anaheim’s John Gibson. Whitehall’s John Gibson.

Gibson turns 28 this month and languishes in Anaheim, a team who hasn’t made the playoffs in the last three seasons, and may well not return to the playoffs another while either. Gibson has six more seasons remaining on his contract at a $6.4 million cap hit.

When Anaheim was a good team, Gibson was awesome. In the three years from 2015-18, Gibson had a .924 save% in 122 games, a 2.26 GAA and a whopping 45.2 goals saved above average. In the last three seasons where the Ducks have bottomed out, Gibson’s stats have suffered according with a .909 save%, a 2.96 GAA and -0.8 GSAA recently.

The resume of being one of the best goalies in the league is very intriguing. In 2017-18, Gibson went 31-18-7 with a .926 save% and 39 “quality starts” compared to just four “really bad starts” as defined by Hockey Abstract. Goaltending like that would be a dream come true for the Penguins.

But....is it a pipe dream to imagine the Pens being able to offer a trade with Anaheim that would make sense for the Ducks?

To learn the answer to what the Anaheim perspective might look like, I reached out to CJ Woodling, formerly the Ducks’ blogger at SBN and currently writes at Crash the Pond. Here is some of our online conversation (edited for clarity).

Pensburgh: To understand the Ducks’ perspective where do you think they see themselves? As a team that could/should be making a run to contend for a playoff spot next year or more of a longer rebuild?

CJ: Well Bob Murray used the term “rebuild” for the first time in exit interviews the other day. Prior to that he had been referring to it as a “retool” and was refusing to deal veterans for future pieces (like Josh Manson and Rickard Rakell and Jakob Silfverberg) because he pretty clearly misjudged the talent of the roster. He signed Kevin Shattenkirk last offseason specifically saying he was tired of losing and wanted to make the playoffs

It appears he’s finally come to terms with the fact that this is a full blown rebuild now, and the hiring of Jeff Solomon from the Kings specifically to build out an analytics department (the Ducks were the only team in the NHL without a known analytics department) means he might actually be on the right track now.

Pensburgh: The Penguins want a goalie upgrade but don’t have a lot of cap room to work with. I assume Tristan Jarry would have to be involved in any trade for cap purposes (he’s also a good goalie at times!). What else would be on the table as asks from Anaheim if they would be at least listening to the market for John Gibson?

I assume the ideal, somewhat fair starting offer from Pittsburgh would be Jarry, Marcus Pettersson and one young piece (Like one of the two goalies drafted fairly high in the 2020 draft; Joel Blomqvist or Calle Clang, defender Pierre-Olivier Joseph)..

CJ: What the Ducks don’t need is a young goalie. They have Lukas Dostal, who is the highest ranked European goaltending prospect right now and just seems to stop pucks at every single level he goes to. He played 24 games in the AHL this last year and put up a .916 sv% as a 20 year old. I’m not entirely convinced he’s ready yet, but he’s clearly the heir apparent to Gibson, which is one of the reasons Gibson is on the verge of being expendable. So if Gibson were to go sometime in the next year, having Jarry as essentially the bridge wouldn’t be a bad idea.

The conversation for Gibson begins and ends with young scoring talent. Preferably someone who’s within a year or less of being NHL ready. This team can’t score and hasn’t been able to for years. That is their most dire need at the moment.

Pensburgh: The Penguins aren’t stocked there, but they do have a very good young prospect in 2019 first round winger Samuel Poulin and 2019 third round pick Nathan Legare who has tremendous offensive shooting upside. Both are getting close to NHL readiness.

I assume that Pittsburgh would be incredibly hesitant to deal from the Jared McCann/Kasperi Kapanen level of younger player who is already productive in the NHL, and Jason Zucker at age 29 seems a bit too old to be a good fit for the Ducks with their current lifecycle.

If the Ducks’ executive team/ownership hypothetically came to you and said “look, you can’t change our mind, we want to trade Gibson at this point, and we’re thinking Pittsburgh could be a fit since they want a new goalie...what should a trade look like?” what would you advise?

CJ: Poulin and Legare are exactly what the Ducks would be looking for. I think Murray would (and should) consider that deal. I know Murray and Jim Rutherford were buddies, and with Brian Burke there now (even with Ron Hextall at the helm now) there’s obviously a very good relationship there.

One thing i will say that’s important to remember about Murray: he’s one of the few GMs who still tries to “win” trades. He’s not one of these guys who looks to find a mutual fit and then have both sides get valuable pieces to try to make it an even deal. He’s always looking for ways to come out ahead, which is one of the primary reasons he hasn’t dealt any of the semi-valuable vets; most GMs don’t work like that and they’re smarter than that so they won’t offer overpayments.

Pensburgh: Maybe that’s why Murray and Rutherford were so compatible, Gentleman Jim talked openly about not wanting to rip off his fellow managers and make sure both sides were treated fairly and got good value.

Perhaps in that vein do you think Anaheim might also seek an NHL defenseman as an additional asset to bring back? Pittsburgh has a surplus of reasonably paid defenders, and wouldn’t trade Brian Dumoulin or John Marino...But if the Ducks wanted Pettersson back to feel good about grabbing max value in the Gibson return, the Pens probably aren’t heartbroken to drop $4m more off the cap..

CJ: Getting Pettersson back is such a Murray move it hurts haha. Yeah I could definitely see getting a defenseman back. The Ducks top four is actually fine, but that third pairing is an absolute dumpster fire (apologies to dumpster fires). So a decent defenseman in a responsibly 3rd pairing role would go well here

Pensburgh: Very interesting..So we’re talking names like Jarry, Pettersson, Poulin and Legare as a potential jump off point? The Pens would preferably rather limit the deal to one of Poulin/Legare, but also probably figure the chance to add an elite goalie would be too much to pass up if that was the determining factor or not to close the deal..

CJ: That is the starting point for a package. Actually the starting point would be a first round pick, but it could come down from there. To me, the most fair package I could see is Jarry, Poulin, Pettersson, and a third for Gibson and a fifth. That is about as win-win of a deal as I can think of, as far as the Pens are concerned. Anything more pushes the deal in Anaheim’s favor.

Oh and another thing to consider with Gibson: you do not want him playing more than 60 games in a season. That is probably even pushing it. He’s had such a heavy workload the past few years that anything more than 55 games and things get dicey with him. If you can limit him to 50 games and have a decent backup behind him, he’ll get you where you need to go. Any more and you’re playing with fire.

Pensburgh: Backup goalie Casey DeSmith has shown an ability for 25-30ish games, so that would be a fit!

I think the offer CJ and I got to is relatively fair, value-wise for both teams. But it assumes that Anaheim would even want to entertain offers or see the market for Gibson right now, which obviously is a big assumption. But without that assumption, it’s not as fun to speculate and dream a little, and what is the summer for if not dreaming a little?

Giving up Jarry + Pettersson (~$7.5 million total to the cap next year) makes this a fairly salary-neutral move for Pittsburgh, since Gibson ($6.4m) plus promoting P.O Joseph ($863k on his entry level contract) are in the same ballpark as what is going out the door. That’s an important consideration, and one that makes sense.

The question for Pittsburgh would be is giving up a promising young forward in Poulin enough to justify addressing the goalie situation?

Poll

Would you trade Tristan Jarry, Samuel Poulin, Marcus Pettersson, and a third round pick to Anaheim for John Gibson and a fifth rounder?

This poll is closed

  • 43%
    Yes...Instantly yes!
    (1027 votes)
  • 26%
    Probably, but would need more time to think on it
    (636 votes)
  • 23%
    No deal, because it’s too many pieces/too high a price for the Penguins to ship out
    (558 votes)
  • 5%
    No deal, bc Gibson at his age/contract/past few seasons is not who the Pens should bring in
    (137 votes)
2358 votes total Vote Now