Now that the Seattle expansion draft is in the rear view mirror, the Penguins emerge with a little bit of salary cap space after they have seen two forwards depart in the last week. With Jared McCann (trade) and Brandon Tanev (expansion) gone, Pittsburgh finds itself with $7.4 million under the salary cap with nine forwards, seven defensemen and two goalies accounted for.
They can certainly opt to do more shuffling with pieces like Marcus Pettersson and perhaps Tristan Jarry in play on the trade market, but the last week has made it clear that the Pens biggest organizational place to start adding and moving forward to 2021-22 will be with the forwards.
Nothing stands still in the NHL for long, yesterday there was already a report out of Arizona that the Pens are among a handful of teams sniffing around adding Christan Dvorak from the Coyotes.
Have heard several teams showing interest in trading for Coyotes Center Christian Dvorak - Calgary, Montreal, Ottawa, Vegas and Pittsburgh.— John Gambadoro (@Gambo987) July 21, 2021
A rumor or connection of names doesn’t necessarily mean much, teams need to perform their due diligence on players across the league that it is a positive sign here to even see the Pens specifically mentioned. Even if nothing may develop out of this specific lead, you want to see the team sniffing around and establishing what fits could be out there.
As for Dvorak, his style and ability looks to be more in the Jared McCann mold than the Brandon Tanev mold, to restrict to just the recently departed players. Dvorak can play wing or center and has four more seasons on a $4.45 million cap hit. His age (25) and size (6’0, 195) is pretty much in-line with McCann as well.
Dvorak has performed well as of late, he had a career-year in 2019-20, but was on pace to surpass those boxcar offensive numbers in 2020-21, if not for the shortened season.
With Arizona not exactly being a high-powered team, Dvorak finished third on the team in goals and sixth in points last season.
His advanced numbers show he’s no slouch defensively, but has driven better results offensively.
McCann’s numbers are a bit better across the board, but then again so too was his team offensively. Dvorak’s 1.5 WAR in 2019-20 was a bit better than McCann’s 1.2, but then McCann blew up for a 2.8 last season to a 1.0 for Dvorak.
Dvorak was a workhorse up the middle last season for Arizona, taking 1,062 faceoffs (more than 450 more than his closest teammate) and winning an impressive 52.1% of them. Given that the Pens elected to protect Teddy Blueger and Jeff Carter along with Sidney Crosby, it’s a bit curious to their interest in another center, but a team would never complain about too much depth down the middle, and there’s always a possibility to play on the wing as well for players like Carter and Dvorak, if the coach wanted to shift a player.
The possibilities of a trade in this instance would be worth keeping an eye on. According to CapFriendly, Arizona only has three defensemen at this time under contract for next season. Dvorak’s age, contract amount and term (25, $4.45m for four years) aligns with Pettersson (25, $4.025m for four) almost identically. Value-wise, trading a first line center for a mid-lineup defensemen who ended the season on a slump could be a bit of a mismatch.
Whether it ends up being Christan Dvorak or not, one thing sure and certain is the Pens will look to shift gears in the next phase of the off-season as they stop losing forwards and through either trade or free agency avenues look to add back to the lineup. After the past week of losses, that will be an exciting development to see how Pittsburgh will shift gears to attempt and move forward.