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NHL Trade Deadline: Penguins Scouting Toronto, Vancouver–Who’s Available?

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pittsburgh penguins, brock boeser, NHL trade

While fans have been breathless with NHL trade rumors of Kasperi Kapanen for Brock Boeser since Jim Rutherford was named President of Hockey Operations of the Vancouver Canucks, there are probably more things in play than video game trades. Over the past week, the Pittsburgh Penguins have been scouting Vancouver and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

By our math, the last several games for each have featured Penguins scouts.

First, a bit more context on Vancouver and the hockey operations team, including GM Patrik Allvin. Elliotte Friedman explained on Hockey Night in Canada.

“They’ve been going out, getting information on the value of their players on the open market,” the ace reporter said. “There are very few Canucks that haven’t been talked about … but they’re out there looking at the rest of their team saying, ‘OK, what information can we glean and what is the market for them?’ I think what the Canucks have also been doing–for those players who may need new contracts soon, they’ve been asking about the possibilities of staying.”

The Penguins had two scouts for the Maple Leafs-Buffalo Sabres game, and we know the Sabres sent AGM Jason Karmanos for a couple of games in Pittsburgh. We already looked at the NHL trade block for Buffalo, including $1.6 million lefty defenseman Robert Hagg.

We believe the Penguins and GM Ron Hextall will not “go big,’ but look for affordable options to bolster the lineup. The Penguins could use a middle-six winger to chip in more offense or a bit of physicality. The Penguins d-corps is solid but could be upgraded, too.

NHL Trade Block

It’s tough to separate fact from fiction with both Canadian cities. Everyone is available, everyone is worth your best players, and everyone wants to play there, right?

It’s hard to lock down what Toronto Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas may be looking for–he has a deep team. However, starting goalie Jack Campbell has struggled lately, and the defense is without Jake Muzzin and Rasmus Sandin. Toronto quickly placed Muzzin on LTIR with a concussion on Feb. 24.

Muzzin is a solid LHD with a just over $4 million cap hit. With Muzzin out, Toronto has about $3.3 million in cap space.

Interestingly, Toronto’s electric prospect, Nicholas Robertson, has played the last four games. He’s had trouble cracking their NHL roster over the last few seasons but is only 20-years-old. However, he’s only 5-foot-9, 164-pounds. In 10 NHL games, he scored his first goal on Saturday night. He has two career points.

Robertson, a LW, slotted beside John Tavares in Toronto’s top-six.

I’m absolutely spitballing, but could the Penguins be convinced to give up a LHD (and retain salary) because they have a surplus six deep, including Mark Friedman and P.O. Joseph? Toronto thinks highly of Robertson, a 2019 second-round pick.

In 30 AHL games over the last two seasons, Robertson has 24 points (8-16-24). 

Toronto doesn’t have much if you’re looking for physicality or truculence. Only five players on the roster, including Muzzin, have more than 70 hits. Wayne Simmonds leads the team with 97. Simmonds is worth far more to Toronto than on the NHL trade block. Defensemen Muzzin (84) and Justin Holl (79) are second and third.

Vancouver Canucks

Let’s start by downplaying the Brock Boeser for Kasperi Kapanen chatter. That talk has never been reported, only runaway speculation because Rutherford coveted Kapanen and paid a premium to re-acquire him in Pittsburgh.

Boeser will be an RFA after the season, and it will take a hefty qualifying offer to keep his rights. He makes over $5.8 million for 33 points (16-17-33) in 51 games. There are questions about his fortitude–from this keyboard, he does not seem like a good fit for the Mike Sullivan Pittsburgh Penguins, certainly not at his salary level.

 J.T. Miller isn’t coming home, either. Fuhgeddaboudit.

What do the Canucks want to do? They are currently between four and eight points out of a playoff spot. One good week and they’re right back in it. If the Vegas Golden Knights continue dropping, they could leap into the top three of the Pacific Division.

So, let’s not assume Rutherford will have a fire sale nor sell off assets for “future” considerations.

However, if Hextall could convince one team in the league to overvalue the Penguins prospect pool, it would be Vancouver. Perhaps Joseph, Nathan Legare, or Sam Poulin have more value to the Canucks than they would other teams?

Canucks winger Conor Garland is an interesting name that has appeared in NHL trade chatter. The RW has 31 points (14-17-31) in 55 games. However, he’s also small at just 5-foot-10, 165 pounds.

Right-side defenseman Travis Hamonic is a d-man that a few would like to get their hands on–but his past insistence to play in western Canada is problematic. Has he softened that desire? The defender carries an affordable $3 million cap hit through next season.

Hamonic, 31, was readily available on the eve of the season and didn’t immediately report to Vancouver, but that was a unique situation. It was never fully explained, and reports of being anti-vax were disputed. He would be a big upgrade for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Or, we can take the easy route here: Kapanen for Boeser! (no, no, no).

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Chris R
Chris R
8 months ago

“However, starting goalie Jack Campbell has struggled lately, and the defense is without Jake Muzzin and Rasmus Dahlin.” Sandin, not Dahlin. Nick Robertson’s looking good. It’s easy to see why the Leafs like him.

Stephen Powanda
Stephen Powanda
8 months ago

NO MORE SMALL PLAYERS

Frank
Frank
8 months ago

Cannot tell you how much I agree with that. I always remember Craig Patrick saying “Fast players get slow . . . big players do not get small.” Truer words! So tired of providing road kill for other teams.

Irish Hammer
Irish Hammer
8 months ago
Reply to  Frank

Amen

Jason.C
Jason.C
8 months ago

None of those guys make sense for a middle 6 frwd we have a whole team of small guys they need gritty rugged physical big guys to balance out there roster and I am not talking about goons guys, they havre to be able to skate adequately to keep up.

Fredrick
Fredrick
8 months ago

Garland would be my ideal choice. He is similar to Rust with his work ethic. He also has a pretty reasonable cap hit going into the next few seasons.

AnthonyB
AnthonyB
8 months ago

Toronto played Buffalo who we have been scouting. Kyle Okposo is having a good year for a middle 6 option. If it’s a defender Hopefully they’re looking at Luke Schen he is also near league minimum.

Irish Hammer
Irish Hammer
8 months ago
Reply to  AnthonyB

Robert Hagg a Lefty Dman and Schenn a Righty Dman are both stay at home Defensive Dman which Pens need in playoffs. Both cheap contracts. Schenn is a very popular player on team and locker room

Crazyhorse87
Crazyhorse87
8 months ago

Alex Chiasson and Luke Schenn for Kapanen, it can be nothing for nothing, but you just never know.

Paul
Paul
8 months ago

J.R. might want an appetizer in the deal, but at face value, Boeser would give the Pens a better chance than Kapaenen to win now. A major problem of late has been a shortage of goal scorers, which are at an even greater premium in the postseason. Boeser would address that immediately. Kapanen is the more fluid skater, but Boeser has the bigger body and is the more consistent. He has a lethal shot and would make an excellent option on the second (or even first) PP unit. At 25, I don’t think the guy is close to his potential.… Read more »

Last edited 8 months ago by Paul