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NHL Trade Rumors

Top 3 Trade Spots for Jake Guentzel; Potential Returns



Pittsburgh Penguins, Jake Guentzel, Sidney Crosby

We have reached that unfortunate hour in which Jake Guentzel is on the NHL trade block, and bidders are waving numbered placards in hopes of landing the scoring winger who has not only supported center Sidney Crosby better than any winger in Crosby’s career but also elevated Crosby’s game.

It seems everyone is coming to grips with the disappointment in one way or another. Guentzel has helped to define the latest era of the Penguins organization with one Stanley Cup ring (2017) and will chase another this spring while his current mates likely cheer him on from home.

There was significant chatter Tuesday night that the Vancouver Canucks and president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford were salivating over Guentzel, so much so that they may part with mid-season acquisition Elias Lindholm to add him.

Make no mistake, Guentzel, 29, is the premier trade deadline acquisition available. No one else has a 40-goal season on his resume and is under 30 years old, with a proven ability to play with talented players of different sorts.

As the reports and chatter emerge, it is a tense time around the Penguins. Guentzel momentarily emerged from a quiet corner of the Penguins’ offices Tuesday night, only to see the media entering the locker room, and he retreated. The team sputtered through a sloppy win over the Columbus Blue Jackets Tuesday, as the players on and off the ice are obviously struggling to deal with the fallout from their failure.

Top 3 Possible Jake Guentzel Destinations

1. Vancouver Canucks

When Jim Rutherford wants a player, it usually gets done. Yes, long-time Penguins scout and assistant GM Patrik Allvin is the Canucks’ general manager, but Rutherford is the man in charge. And those two know Guentzel as well as anyone.

Rutherford has done a marvelous job turning around the disjointed Canucks with sharp moves, albeit many fewer than he needed to retool the 2015-16 Pittsburgh Penguins troupe that went from the bottom to the Stanley Cup in the same season.

Vancouver has few real prospects in the pipeline, but there is one who might make good sense: 2023 11th overall pick Tom Willander, a physical defenseman at Boston University. However, the Canucks do not have a 2024 first-round pick, so Dubas would need to settle for a 2025 pick, get NHL talent, or Vancouver must find a first-rounder fast.

Reports surfaced Tuesday night that Vancouver and the Penguins were working on a three-team deal that involved Canucks forward Elias Lindholm going to Boston. However, Boston also is without its 2024 first-round pick, used to acquire Tyler Bertuzzi last season.

2. LA Kings

Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty are not getting younger. They’re in their late 30s, and chances of winning another Cup are dwindling while the Kings’ new core is emerging; Guentzel would be the perfect bridge for young players like Quinton Byfield.

Their rivals, the Colorado Avalanche and Vegas Golden Knights, have won recent Stanley Cups. The Edmonton Oilers are banging on the door, with desperation.

Guentzel would slot beautifully beside Kopitar, allowing new coach Jim Hiller to distribute scoring throughout the lineup more evenly. He could move Byfield to second-line center or wing and have a significantly better top-six.

No, the Kings will not part with Byfield in a deal.

LA also needs a goalie, which creates a healthy opportunity for Penguins president of hockey operations/GM Kyle Dubas to pair one of his goaltenders with Guentzel for an even greater return. Most prospect rankings, including one by The Athletic, ranked the Kings’ prospect pool as a top-10 pipeline.

Brandt Clarke, the eighth overall pick in 2021, is their top prospect. The high-ceiling, right-handed defenseman is good with the puck and pushing offense. In 15 NHL games this season, he has six points (2-4-6) and has eight points in 24 career games over the last two seasons.

Other top prospects, such as righty defenseman Jordan Spence, who has plenty of offensive upside, and smaller but talented winger Alex Turcotte, are 23 and at the make-or-break points in their careers, but neither has yet established himself in the NHL. The Kings also have their 2024 first-round pick.

3. Vegas Golden Knights

Their heartbeat and leader, Mark Stone, is injured and may not be ready for the playoffs. GM Kelly McCrimmon snagged Anthony Mantha from the Capitals for a second-rounder this year (and a fourth in 2026). Still, the Washington Capitals ate 50% of Mantha’s $5.7 million salary, so Vegas has more salary-cap space with which to play.

The Golden Knights are getting some mileage out of prospect Brendan Brisson, a 22-year-old scoring LW. Brisson is a heady player who isn’t a great skater but has been a good scorer at the lower levels and is chipping in some offense from the Golden Knights’ third line. He is the son of super-agent Pat Brisson and a friend of Sidney Crosby.

Fellow top prospect Lukas Cormier is a lefty defenseman with offensive acumen and next-level skating. He is playing his first professional season. In 65 AHL games, he has 35 points (10-25-35). He has one assist in two NHL games.

Guentzel would allow the Golden Knights to remain competitive for a second straight Stanley Cup. Imagine Guentzel with William Karlsson and Jack Eichel with Johnathan Marchessault anchoring their top-six. Yeah, that should be worth a No. 1 and Cormier.

Given Stone’s injury history and age, they might have a long-term need for Guentzel, too.

Give Guentzel a month in the desert, and maybe he’ll be ready to sign a long-term deal. After all, Marc-Andre Fleury, Phil Kessel, and Teddy Blueger loved it there.