Say what you will about Ron Hextall, but he certainly does move in silence.
Looking for a note in the Pierre LeBrun’s “rumblings” column? You’re not going to find nary a passing mention of the Penguins.
Some insight or a nugget from Elliotte Friedman’s 32 Thoughts? Usually not thinking about Pittsburgh, aside from this week where every team got a preview for the deadline. The Pens’ entry is short of insight, though it’s probably not the author’s fault when there’s no information to be shared.
15. Pittsburgh Penguins: The Penguins are in a tough spot. Their math is not bad, but three straight games without a point reduced the margin for error. (I’m still shocked they didn’t score to tie Monday’s game against New York. They were all over the Islanders.) Missing the playoffs is not an option, but mortgaging the future is not what they should be doing. A high pick for a rental doesn’t seem smart. If there was an obvious path, they’d have done it already.
Figuring out scenarios in my head, I’ve thought maybe they should consider selling, then adding. Do you test the market on a Brian Dumoulin or a Tristan Jarry or a Jason Zucker (15 goals and competing hard every game I see) and find out if that gives you more flexibility to add something useful?
Sell, then add would be an inventive twist on the current situation. Could the Pens, say, move Brian Dumoulin only to circle back and pick up Chicago’s Jake McCabe to fill that spot and role instead? That would be fun. There’s no indications that’s anything more than a glancing possibility as of yet.
With due respect to Friedman, moving Jason Zucker is about the last thing the Pens should do. They need more of his fire, not less.
“If there was an obvious path, they’d have done it already,” sounds foreboding and ominous. Even though everyone has solutions and ideas, turning hypotheticals into actionable transactions in the real world can be a jump.
The one saving grace if you want to see the Penguins do something in the trade market, is that this is simply Hextall’s style to not have a big lead up, or give obvious clues or leave information out there about what direction he intends to travel. No media member or fan had any early indication or hint that Jeff Carter (then of a $5.2 million cap hit, no less) would be acquired by Pittsburgh two years ago, in a move that struck out of left field. Similarly, Rickard Rakell to the Pens wasn’t telegraphed very directly until the transaction was made.
Sort of like the duck looking calm and collected above water, but battling like hell beneath the surface kicking his little feet, that’s Ron Hextall. And we can only see the above water part. Granted, this duck isn’t traveling fast and no one is expecting him to suddenly take flight or make a drastic, fantastical move out of no where — but just because there’s no news, doesn’t mean there’s no activity just out of sight.
With only nine days before the trade deadline and a clock ticking louder after every exasperating game, it would be better for Hextall to make his move sooner than later. Being quiet is OK, but sooner or later as a manager, the team, fanbase and hockey world has to hear something from him.