The 2020 NHL trade deadline could be more interesting in Pittsburgh than anyone expected. Not just one source, but three sources told Pittsburgh Hockey Now that Penguins General Manager Jim Rutherford indeed blew a gasket on Saturday. Sources did not say the ugly loss on Saturday changed Rutheford’s trade deadline plans, but in talking with multiple sources over the last 36 hours, it does seem the Penguins are at least considering more than they planned. Or more than they hoped would be necessary.
PHN had more on the situation on Saturday evening. It’s also important to note that a deal can take months. The Penguins were interested in Nick Bjugstad for nearly 18 months and it may be too difficult to pivot this late in the game with so few tradeable assets.
But Rutherford is a horsetrader.
Stay up the minute with the NHL trades and Trade Deadline Day with the PHN running tracker and analysis.
Adding more pressure, late Sunday the Washington Capitals upped their game further by acquiring winger Ilya Kovalchuk. Sources spoke to PHN before Washington added even more skilled depth.
What We Know
–It will be music to fan’s ears, the Pittsburgh Penguins are indeed interested in Pittsburgh native, Florida Panthers forward Vincent Trocheck. PHN was able to confirm the Penguins scouts have recently been present in Florida for the purpose of getting a good look at Trocheck.
Trocheck, 26, is a right-handed forward, of which the Penguins have few. The Penguins don’t have any right-handed centers, and Trocheck can play center or wing. That would fill Rutherford’s versatile ideal. He has a 51.2% career faceoff percentage.
This season, Trocheck has 36 points (10g, 26a) in 55 games. Trocheck is a playmaker with defensive awareness.
PHN Analysis: Trocheck will be expensive. Just how mad is Rutherford? Surely this type of deal would require a high-level prospect, the idea of which Rutherford has publicly rejected. If it is possible, this deal is more likely in the summer, but don’t sleep on the Penguins pulling it off on Monday.
–Some in the organization believe Dominik Kahun is a likely piece in the Penguins wheeling-and-dealing on Monday. Sunday was the first time we heard Kahun mentioned as a trade chip, but our team source indicated moving Kahun was probable.
Kahun has 27 (10g, 17a) points this season, but is an expendable piece as he hasn’t solidified a consistent place in the lineup. It’s unknown how Kahun’s injury may complicate the situation.
–We’re getting different tones from different sources about Wayne Simmonds. One side is firm that he could be a solid get and firm up the bottom lines. Another side feels Simmonds isn’t a priority.
I must say, the pro side has made a strong case that Simmonds could handle the Penguins system and fill in for Zach Aston-Reese but provide high-level intangibles.
–Casey DeSmith was a late scratch in WBS on Sunday. However, a first-hand source quickly confirmed it was just a tweak and not Penguins trade deadline related.
–We continue to hear NO defense.
Analysis: This must mean Dumoulin and John Marino were given positive news. It would have been difficult to watch the last several Penguins games and judge the defense well. A defenseman would have been an immediate priority when Dumoulin was injured on Nov. 30 but the Penguins survived this long.
Ultimately, when Rutherford shuts the door to his Cranberry office on Monday and the hour tock down on the Penguins trade deadline, it will be his decision.