Right now, the Pittsburgh Penguins are on a kind of “hold.” Just waiting for some key players to come back from injury. Waiting for the final trading date to get closer and seeing the market release more than it was. The hold situation isn’t very fun, and now that it’s halfway through the season, Ron Hextall knows enough to know what he needs to do to help the team.
Despite outcries and pleas that Hextall was too inactive (which, of course, is not unfounded), he had added the general manager to the Penguins during the previous season. Last year it was Ricard Raquel. The previous year was Jeff Carter. And although Carter’s contract extension didn’t work out, both business moves were successful.
This time around, Hextall’s focus clearly has to be on reshaping his third line, which isn’t much of a third line at all these days. Carter bombed, Kaspre Kapanen gets third line money but doesn’t play third line minutes. Pens desperately need a minor help Balancing their team and staying afloat When Sidney Crosby and Evgeny Malky are on the bench.
The salary cap is an issue, the inactive commercial market is the issue, but inaction for penguins will also be a major issue as well. Who could some of the targets of the trade be? Athletic swept the league and came up with a few names, which is a good place to start.
◽️ Hurricanes, Bruins in Bo Horvat?
◽️ Has Patrick Kane decided if he wants to be dealt with?
◽️ Blues and wolf among the sellers@tweet Employees have their own updated trade board as the deadline approaches.https://t.co/QItizCFtJV
– NHL Sports Association (TheAthleticNHL) January 18, 2023
The penguins are not likely to be running and shooting to try and get any of the premium players seriously, so they wouldn’t be a good use of time. The likes of Bo Horvat, Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and Timo Meier are no match for Pittsburgh with their high salaries and also trade costs that Pittsburgh would be reluctant to pay. Besides, pens currently do not need to bring top players forward. All of their big stars are in place and doing well, and their most likely goals are achievable goals that play a slightly larger role on the roster. like:
Ivan Barbashev (STL): whom The Athletic called “the kind of useful, all-position, playoff-playing forward who can help almost any team looking for a consistent third-line contributor”. And seriously, you probably couldn’t create a more perfect description that fits what penguins need better than if you tried. Barbashev can play center or wing, and he’s in the Jared McCann/Evan Rodrigues type of sweet spot for a player who isn’t a marquee, cornerstone of a frontline team but can certainly warm up and help out a lot. Barbashev, 27, is suitable for age, and his contract ($ 2.5 million) is also suitable.
One problem is that the Blues are only four points away from a playoff stage, and they’re not likely to give up and become sellers just yet. But this player and position is definitely worth watching as someone who can add a lot of goals to the Penguins and will be well worth the wait, if St. Louis makes it out of the playoffs in the next four or six weeks and looks to move some veterans around.
Gustav Nyquist (CBJ): “He’s a versatile, experienced striker who can play on both the left and right sides. He has modest scoring totals – 18 points, all of equal strength, so far – but he’s been almost a man in every game in the last two weeks,” according to The Athletic. But hitting the $5.5 million cap could complicate matters, as well as the fact that the Penguins and Blue Jackets rarely coordinate on deals.
Max Domi (Chi): With 30 points in 42 games this season, Domi opened some eyes with his performance in Chicago. Last year, he was a deadline from Columbus to Carolina to get a prospect drafted in the third round. Domi does have some flexibility in positioning, and if Mario Lemieux is still the primary owner, a personal bond with his good friend Tie Domi may be more effective.
Jordan Greenway (min): “The acquisition team can still look at him with the eyes of a scout. He should be a lot better than he was,” he says. The Athletic is a huge 6’6″, 235 forward who’s only scored two goals on the season. One downside is that Pittsburgh and Minnesota are terrible business partners. A well-known source in Minnesota called “Bachelor’s” In the event of a potential deal between the two teams looming, if the Wild is looking to move Greenway (and his $3.0 million contract for next season) he will likely make some future relief. The Pens are the last team that can do that now.
Lars Eller (WSH): This obviously won’t happen when the pens and caps make a major straight trade, but just for spells on the ice this would help Pittsburgh tremendously, in the very unlikely event Flag Dispute 2.0. “The 33-year-old Eller is big — 6-foot-2, 215 pounds — strong and has playoff experience, so he checks a lot of important boxes. He’s on an expiring $3.5 million contract. I’m told Washington would take his offers if they could. Get help on defense.” Eller has been a healthy scratch lately, Washington has too many forwards now and not enough defensemen. The Penguins are probably the opposite and need a career center and will soon have too many linebackers. It’s a shame the two are rivals and won’t work together on the surface, which probably makes Eller impossible for pens in the short term.
There is just over six weeks until the trading deadline and some teams are in a wait-and-watch mode. The Penguins should look to switch gears a little sooner than that based on the performance and fouling of their front group. If Hextall can thread the salary cap needle and cost per acquisition of what to give up, he can find a way to give the pens a boost that will nail their team with a fresh look for their bottom lines.