If there is one thing we know about Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Ron Hextall it is that he tends to keep things quiet. Nobody — literally nobody — had projected the Penguins to acquire Jeff Carter at the NHL trade deadline a year ago, and I am not sure many people had them connected to Danton Heinen or Brock McGinn this past summer in free agency. He does not let information slip out, which makes days like trade deadline a little bit of a mystery.
So with that said, let us go through a few names to watch for on Monday as the Penguins look to add to their roster to keep pace with the other Stanley Cup contenders in the Eastern Conferernce.
Names That Could Be On The Move
The Penguins do not have a ton of trade assets to deal from in terms of prospects. Their top prospects like Samuel Poulin, Nathan Lagare, and Pierre-Olivier Joseph are not really difference-makers and pretty interchangeable with most other team’s prospects. They also have their First-Round pick to deal if they choose (and they should be open to it) as well as any other future draft pick.
Some names on the NHL roster that could be used as trade chips include....
Kasperi Kapanen. It just seems obvious, even if his value is not that high. If the Penguins are going to make a significant addition some money needs to go out the other way and Kapanen seems like a logical choice given his struggles this season, salary cap number, and the fact he seems to have fallen out of favor with the coaching staff. The problem is that there might only be one executive in the league that really values him (hello, Jim Rutherford).
John Marino. This would have to be a significant trade and bring back a really important piece. With Kris Letang’s future with the team in doubt they are going to need somebody to play on the right side. If you trade Marino, you better have a contract in place for Letang, or at least a lot of confidence you are going to be able to re-sign him.
Marcus Pettersson. While the Penguins’ depth on the right side is thin beyond Letang and Marino, they have some pretty good depth on the left side with Pettersson, Mike Matheson, and Brian Dumoulin. If you wanted to get bold you could take advantage of the price for defenseman in trades and shop Dumoulin around to see what you can get, but that seems unlikely. Still, Dumoulin seems like the type of player that is going to slow down even more and he could probably bring a nice return. Pettersson seems like a more likely candidate though, perhaps in a move for a forward.
Names to watch for in trades
Conor Garland, Vancouver Canucks. The Canucks have been mentioned as a potential trading partner for the Penguins because of the front office connections, and because they have top-six wingers potentially available that are under team control beyond this season. J.T. Miller is not going to happen for a lot of reasons (Vancouver would be crazy to trade him, and the Penguins would almost certainly be outbid by other teams) but Conor Garland seems within reach. He is a good player, but also seems very similar to a lot of the other Penguins forwards in that he does everything well but is not an elite finisher. Still, he would be intriguing.
Brock Boeser, Vancouver Canucks. Sticking with the Canucks, Boeser is more of a finisher than Garland but his contract situation is not ideal given that he is a restricted free agent after this season and due for a significant raise.
Rickard Rakell, Anaheim Ducks. The Penguins have been mentioned as a potential Rakell landing spot, but he may not be ideal given that he is a rental and a potential unrestricted free agent. He is a scorer, but is he worth the first-round pick the Ducks are rumored to be looking for? The Penguins would prefer a player with term, but he is an option.
Artturi Lehkonen, Montreal Canadiens. An intriguing option from Montreal. He would probably cost a first-round pick to convince Montreal to trade him, but he is a restricted free agent that does a lot of things well. Good two-way player, a possession driver, and some offensive touch. He could make a big impact.
Dominik Kubalik, Chicago Blackhawks. The Blackhawks are in a complete rebuild mode and nobody is off limits in trade talks there. Kubalik has regressed offensively since his breakout rookie season and might need a fresh start with some better talent around him. HE is a shooter and a scorer that might do well next to a center like Evgeni Malkin. Chicago is rumored to want a second-round pick for him. I like that more than trading a first-round pick for Rakell.
Wild card names
The “I had no idea the Penguins wanted him names.” Or, some names I would like to see the Penguins go after.
Jordan Eberle, Seattle Kraken. A veteran that still has a couple of years of term left on his contract. He would be a great addition this season given his scoring ability, but it would probably mean you do not keep Bryan Rust.
Tyler Bertuzzi, Detroit Red Wings. The Red Wings are reportedly willing to trade anybody except for Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider, and Bertuzzi is a name that has been mentioned in trade speculation. He has another year left on his contract, is a scorer, and also provides some grit and sandpaper that somebody like Brian Burke would love. His vaccination status (he is the only NHL player to not be vaccinated) could be a problem with games in Canada.
Alex DeBrincat, Chicago Blackhawks. File this under, “swing for the fences and see what it would cost.” If the Blackhawks are willing to trade a young, cheap, productive player like Brandon Hagel, then anybody is on the market. Esepcially a veteran that will need a new contract in two years. This also would mean you almost certainly do not re-sign Bryan Rust. Not sure the Penguins have the assets to convince Chicago to trade him, though. So this is just some wishful thinking.
You can join in on the action and check updated betting odds for the Penguins following the trade deadline at DraftKings Sportsbook.