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PHN Live NHL Trade Deadline Blog: Kulikov, Bonino, but No J.T. Miller



NHL Trade deadline, Pittsburgh Penguins

Coral Springs, Fla. — Will the Pittsburgh Penguins make another move, or maybe two? Greetings from the Tampa airport and celebrity spa. It’s NHL trade deadline day. It’s like Christmas, Chanukah, the Super Bowl, the Indy 500, and Black Friday rolled into one glorious day, as teams can resurrect their Stanley Cup hopes, watch rivals surge past them, GMs pay more than they want, and everyone is an armchair GM.

I hope I’m not underselling it.

Update: It’s after 12, PHN is in middle-of-nowhere Florida at the Panthers practice facility where the Penguins are practicing. Dave Molinari will have the Ron Hextall press conference later today.

First, for Penguins fans, here are the direct links to catch up on last night’s Penguins locker room, and the full analysis, including Mikael Granlund and what the Penguins did differently. PHN+ Penguins report card.

I love when Mike Sullivan and Jon Cooper start making adjustments. I think you’ll enjoy the chalkboard from last night. Cooper started with the advantage, and Tampa Bay jumped the Penguins’ breakouts, but Sullivan wrestled away the advantage in the second.

The Penguins’ analysis is important context for what’s to come today. See the 5:40 a.m. post.

NHL Trade Deadline Live Blog:

After all is done, here’s where the Penguins’ salary cap stands:

3:30 p.m: John Klingberg is a Minnesota Wild in exchange for Andrej Sustr, Nikita Nesterenko (2019 sixth-round pick), and a 2024 fourth-rounder.

Calgary acquired Nick Ritchie and Troy Stecher and sent Brett Ritchie and Connor Mackey to Arizona in exchange.

2:54 p.m.: Dryden Hunt to the Calgary Flames in exchange for Radim Zohorna.

2:39 p.m. The Flyers waited until the final minutes to trade JVR. Philly dealt the winger to the Detroit Red Wings.

A few minutes later, Friedman pulled it back. No deal?

2:05 p.m.: Bones is back. Officially. After waiting all day, Nick Bonino is officially back with Pittsburgh Penguins. Per Dave Molinari, who pumped the brakes on the trade this morning, The Penguins gave up a conditional fifth-round draft choice in 2024 and a 2023 seventh-rounder to San Jose. First, Montreal acquired Bonino from San Jose before passing him along to the Penguins. Montreal received San Jose’s fifth-rounder in 2024 and defenseman Tony Sund for taking on 50 percent of Bonino’s $2.05 million salary-cap hit

Trade Catchup: Bill Guerin grabs Oskar Sundqvist from Detroit. Guerin was Penguins AGM when Sundqvist was a Penguins farmhand.

Buffalo acquired Jordan Greenway from Minnesota for a second-round pick and a 2024 fifth-rounder.

1:43 p.m: Chris Johnston files the first official report that Montreal is the third team in the Nick Bonino trade. Montreal is holding part of Bonino’s salary.

1:37 p.m.: Still no official word on Nick Bonino. Also, Josh Yohe of the Athletic confirmed the Penguins will not acquire J.T. Miller today.

1:25 p.m.: Our Dave Molinari is reporting that the Penguins are acquiring defenseman Dmitry Kulikov from Anaheim. Brock McGinn is headed to Anaheim.

12:28 p.m.: Per Elliotte Friedman: Hearing Vladislav Namestnikov to Winnipeg. The Sharks get a fourth-rounder in 2025 for him.

12:20 p.m.: Vancouver sends Curtis Lazar to New Jersey for a fourth. I mean, OK.

12:13 p.m.: Per Philly Hockey Now’s Sam Carchidi, the Seattle Kraken are interested in Flyers’ winger James van Riemsdyk, heretofore known as JVR.

11:59 a.m.: Los Angeles sends forward Brendan Lemieux, an accomplished antagonist and a fifth-round draft choice to Philadelphia for Zach MacEwen.

11:35 a.m.: The Penguins have re-assigned forwards Drew O’Connor and Drake Caggiula to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the American Hockey League.

Don’t forget, the players can be recalled shortly but have to be on the AHL roster at 3 p.m. to be eligible for the AHL playoffs.

11:28 a.m.: Marek’s 32 Thoughts partner, Elliotte Friedman says he thinks the Pittsburgh Penguins and Vancouver Canucks are still talking. Nothing imminent.

How’s that for a tease?

11:11: a.m.: For those wondering, neither the Penguins nor San Jose have confirmed that the trade sending Nick Bonino to the Penguins has been finalized. –Dave Molinari.

10:36 a.m: Readers report that Jeff Marek reporting the Penguins might be working on a blockbuster. Normally, I dismiss most reports like this, but Marek is good as gold. Hold tight.

10:14 a.m.: I’m still in rental car hell at the Ft. Lauderdale airport. FYI-double check your car company here. AmEx booked it for me—We were bussed out to a remote location to a small company that started adding fees. Insurance. Mandatory gas charges… I boarded an Uber back to the airport to begin the process again. What a day. But I’m on it via technology. And Dave Molinari, who is better than I am anyway, is on it.

The Detroit Red Wings dealt Jakub Vrana to the St. Louis Blues, who are collecting faded young players who need a third chance.

9:35 a.m: It’s still a bit of a mystery  Dave Molinari said the deal for Bonino isn’t done just yet but there isn’t any reason to panic. Sounds like small details are being worked out.

Pierre LeBrun reporting the deal will involve a third team picking up salary. The Penguins will send a fifth to that team and a seventh to San Jose.

9:10 a.m.: The first deal of deadline day is announced. Detroit sends left winger Jakub Vrana for St. Louis for center Dylan McLaughlin and a seventh-round draft choice in 2025, with the Red Wings retaining 50 percent of his salary.

The Penguins probably won’t mind having Vrana, who played well against them when he was with Washington, working in the Western Conference in the future.

He has one year left on a contract that carries a $5.25 million cap hit. -Dave Molinari

7:40 a.m.: From Sheng Peng of San Jose Hockey Now:

“Bonino getting informed of the trade is probably what we saw post-game of the Sharks’ 6-3 loss to the St. Louis Blues last night, when we saw Bonino and James Reimer embrace in the hallway in front of the San Jose Sharks locker room.”

Bonino had just one assist in his first 20 games, but in his last 39, he’s put up a healthy 10 goals and eight assists.

7:03 a.m. Elliotte Friedman reports the Penguins acquired Nick Bonino, Bonino, BooooNiiiiiNnnooooo!

See below, this was on PHN’s target list. The team was short one center.  This fills that need. The Penguins trade cost is not yet known. Dave Molinari is on it.

Bonino will be a better penalty killer than Granlund and presumably a better 4C than Drew O’Connor, who can shift back to the wing.

And if Ryan Poehling gets healthy, the Penguins have real depth.

Bonino makes $2.05 million, which would put the Penguins over the cap, so expect more details or a salary holdback.

6:02 a.m. Thursday featured some great deals and big-time players. Tyler Bertuzzi became a Boston Bruins pest for first- and fourth-round picks. And Chicago center Max Domi is now a Dallas Stars center.

Domi was acquired late last night for a second-round pick and Anton Khudobin. So, take him off the board, too.

There are some bargain-bin centers out there. San Jose Sharks forward Nick Bonino might be a nice addition as a fourth-line center and penalty-killer. Arizona’s Travis Boyd is a tough center who might also fit nicely on the Penguins’ bottom line.

Boyd has been in the middle-six this season with Arizona.

Side note: Of Arizona’s $67.2 million salary expenditure, more than 57% is being paid to players not on the ice. Perhaps the NHL brass might make a phone call so that Arizona adds, oh I don’t know, ACTIVE HOCKEY PLAYERS.

5:40 a.m: The above analysis is important for context. Jeff Carter had his best game in weeks? Months? Granlund very quickly showed his strengths and weaknesses. Drew O’Connor is becoming a player, but he’s a winger, not a center.

Coach Mike Sullivan said after the morning skate that his lineup would be a “feeling-out process.” He repeated that uncertainty about maximizing his lineup “as to what we have available.”

Presumptive new 4C Ryan Poehling suffered a setback with his upper-body injury, and O’Connor was pressed into service as a center. And, as we talked with Granlund, Jason Zucker (who played with Granlund for six seasons), and others, combined with Sullivan’s assignments Thursday, it seems Granlund is more wing than a center.

So, the Penguins are short one center.