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Penguins trade Jared McCann to Toronto ahead of expansion roster freeze

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The Pens’ reacquire prospect FIlip Hallander

NHL: MAY 26 Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round - Penguins at Islanders Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Just ahead of the 3PM deadline where rosters would freeze for the NHL’s Seattle expansion, the Penguins found a way to partially alleviate their problem of having too many good forwards by dealing Jared McCann to Toronto.

From a team press release:

The Pittsburgh Penguins have acquired forward Filip Hallander and a 2023 seventh-round draft pick from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for Jared McCann, it was announced today by general manager Ron Hextall.

“We are excited to add Filip back to the organization. He is a well-rounded player with good size who plays the game the right way,” said Penguins general manager Ron Hextall. “We are grateful to Jared for his contributions to the team and wish him the best.”

Hallander, 21, is signed through the 2022-23 season and his contract carries an average annual value of $764,167 at the NHL level.

The 6-foot-1, 190-pound forward spent the 2020-21 season with Lulea HF of the Swedish Hockey League, recording 13 goals, 11 assists and 24 points in 51 games. Hallander’s 13 goals were tied for third-most on the team.

Hallander, the trade return today, was a Penguin draft pick in 2018 sent to the Maple Leafs last summer in the deal to re-acquire Kasperi Kapanen, himself a Pittsburgh draft pick once traded to Toronto.

For the Pens, the thinking here is clear: exposing a player for the Kraken like McCann at 25-years old with a reasonable contract and coming off an exceptional season of 32 points in 43 games would be an automatic loss. In this regard, at least the Pens found a way to work with an existing NHL team to not lose McCann for nothing.

In another regard, dealing McCann for a prospect is a disappointing return and has made the Pens worse today. Out of forwards who played 250 minutes last season, only Kapanen scored more points per 60 minutes than McCann, who also drove excellent defensive and possession-based results.

With McCann off the roster, the Pens clear up $2.94 million in salary and now have about $4 million total in cap space after signing Teddy Blueger to an extension last week. Blueger could also be a beneficiary of this move, given that Pittsburgh now has more forward to protect from Seattle.