The Penguins need a scoring forward. In a perfect world, they’ll find one using their first round pick and maybe one of their mid-level defenders, maybe even Kasperi Kapanen. The striker will still have a term on his contract and it won’t be a rental. It’s a perfect world. Things don’t always go the way you want them to. Rentals, although less ideal, do exist. I believe the Penguins have to do something. If they sense forward players, they may need to consider a rental. Again, not ideal.
We went and did it with the conference of Brock Boeser, Connor Garland and JT Miller. Let’s look around the league at a few forwards who are definitely available or could be available if the Penguins make the right price for the other team. There’s no rhyme or reason for the order
The Penguins have been linked to Bertuzzi who still has a year left on his contract at 4.7M. The Red Wings are supposed to be open for business and Bertuzzi would be fine with moving on. It brings a sandpaper element that Brian Burke would surely like to bring. Bertuzzi is 26 years old and in his prime. His underlying numbers are really great. The catch against Bertuzzi is his vaccination status which prevents him from playing in Canada. This eliminates some of the teams chasing him, certainly not all of them. For the Penguins, it wouldn’t really impact them because they no longer have regular season games in Canada. Montreal and Ottawa are far from the playoffs and the Toronto Maple Leafs should finally win a first-round series and their likely opponents are Tampa Bay, Florida or Boston. So yeah. I could see a Malkin and Bertuzzi couple going wild in teams for sure.
This is a rental option. Rakell is four years away from 30 consecutive seasons. He scored 33 goals in 2016-17 and 34 goals in 2017-18. In his last three seasons, he scored 40 goals in total. His finish has dried up, but this year has seen a slight uptick. He’s shooting 11.8%, which matches his career average of 11.3%. The previous two years were 8.1 and 6.3. Due to the multi-year crisis, its value is probably lower than it would have been. He’s decent at creating a 5-on-5 offense and not so good defensively. The Penguins aren’t looking for defense.
Rakell’s hit cap is 3.79 million. It shouldn’t be a problem to acquire if they needed it.
Eberle has been a thorn in the side of the Penguins throughout his tenure with the Islanders. He was exposed in the expansion draft and Seattle picked him up. He is having a good year with the Kraken. He is 31 years old and has three years left at 5.5 million. His contract matches the Penguins timeline. I don’t think the Kraken shop it per se, but if you throw them a first-round pick or John Marino, you might get their attention. Eberle could be used as Bryan Rust’s insurance if the striker moves on. It is not a rental. He’s still very good at creating offense. Like Rakell, his defensive impacts aren’t good, but that doesn’t matter. That’s not what the Penguins need. They need offense. He is a career 13% shooter and has scored 15 goals in 60 games this year. He would easily occupy a spot in the Penguins’ top six.
It’s not a likely option, but Ron Hextall is working in the shadows. I haven’t heard anyone mention Eberle and he’s what the Penguins should be looking for.
You can’t blog about Penguins trade targets without mentioning a very familiar face who also happens to be a pending free agent. Phil is a legend in Pittsburgh for his personality and his pivotal role on the ice in back-to-back championships. He still hasn’t missed a game since leaving the Penguins. However, as you probably know, it’s not the same guy who was in Pittsburgh. The curve of aging has come for him. He is no longer the goalscorer he used to be. Even his electricity on the power play went by the wayside. He’s still a great passer, but things haven’t been great in the desert. I see Phil as leverage in an emergency. He won’t be expensive to acquire and the Coyotes will likely keep him. This is by no means a choice option, but technically an option
Chicago is clearly in a selling mood and who could blame them? They recently got a Lightning first-round multi for Brandon Hagel. Kubalik is another player with a small NHL sample that the team could look to offload. Kubalik hit the scene in Chicago in a major way during his rookie season. He scored 30 goals in 68 games. It was the result of a 19.1 shooting percentage. It’s not his true shooting skill as the next two years went to 10.9 and 8.6. The following two seasons saw only 28 goals in total. Two short of his rookie year total. He is a pending RFA making 3.7M. Whoever acquires him will bank on his shooting ability being in the middle of his rookie season and his current 8.6%.
Miro Heiskanen is out with mononucleosis that dampens the Stars’ pursuit of the playoffs. They are currently one point away from the wild card. If things go south, they might consider moving Radulov who is a pending free agent. It’s 6.3 million, so teams should figure out how to make that work. Radulov has missed the majority of the 2020-21 season. He only played 11 games but had 12 points. Core surgery sidelined him for the rest of the season. This year, he hasn’t exactly returned to his previous form that we’ve known for years. He has just three goals in 53 games with 19 points. I’m not naive for red flags here. The injury combined with the aging curve could have knocked out an extremely talented player. It’s not the best course of action, but I’d bet Malkin wouldn’t mind playing with him. It probably wouldn’t be a high-cost asset-wise acquisition. It’s a last resort thing
Stastny has always been a reliable and consistent player over the years, from his days in Colorado to his tenure in St. Louis. You might wonder why the Penguins need a center like Stastny. I think there’s a path the Penguins could move Jeff Carter to the wing, either on the Malkin line or to stay on the third line. Stastny is the kind of player who could give the Penguins the opportunity to make that change. Stastny would be an offensive-minded third-line center and help with the offensive depth the Penguins need. He is a pending UFA making 3.8M. I’ve always loved him as a player and while the rentals aren’t ideal, there’s no doubt he would help the Penguins the way they need to be helped.
Nyquist is an attacking-minded winger who has one year left on his $5.5 million contract. He had great years in the 40s for most of his career. The problem here is that in recent years it hasn’t exactly led to offense while being a full defensive liability. Playing with someone like Evgeni Malkin would take a lot of work out of a player like Nyquist, but I’m not a big fan of chasing that player. That said, he is technically an option for a Blue Jackets team likely to miss the playoffs.
James van Riemsdyk
The Claude Giroux era is coming to an end and with it the probable reset button (except for that Ristolainen contract, woof). Although the Penguins and Flyers probably aren’t business partners, it makes sense for the Flyers to move. The problem here is his 7 million cap for this year and next. Something should give. van Riemsdyk would give the Penguins a net presence they’ve been missing since Patric Hornqvist was traded. These days, he’s a 20-goal, 40-point player. The ceiling reached is a high premium to pay for it. I’m not a big fan of targeting van Riemsdyk, but the guy who signed him to his contract is in charge in Pittsburgh
Brown has carved out a niche for himself in Ottawa after being traded from Toronto. He is having a very good year with 36 points in 47 games. Brown has decent speed, which is definitely an attribute that Mike Sullivan would like to display. Brown is 28 and still has one year left on his $3.6 million contract
They are certainly not the only players on the board to be moved. These are the players who stood out looking through the friendly cap this morning. As you can see, the Penguins can take a number of routes, including fixed-term players and rentals. Some options are obviously much better than others. Some options will cost more in assets than others. Some are not even wingers. The only thing that’s certain is that the Penguins need to make a trade. It could very well come from someone on this list.
POST: Explanation of the player card
With the deadline approaching, it’s a good time to post my article on how to read and get the most out of the player cards I’ll be posting throughout the deadline.https://t.co/58TA6puy6g
—JFresh (@JFreshHockey) March 19, 2022
Thanks for reading!