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PHN Debate: Trade Marcus Pettersson, Even if that Means Eating Salary?



Marcus Pettersson, Pittsburgh Penguins Trade

In Round Two of the PHN Debate Series, PHN goes head-to-head with ESPN radio host and Mark Madden substitute host Adam Crowley. While the Crowl-man is known for his unenviable allegiance to West Virginia University and being part of the Pittsburgh Steelers radio network, he’s also a pretty good hockey analyst. Crowley joined us to debate Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Marcus Pettersson, the NHL trade market, and if the Penguins should hold back salary to move Pettersson.

Crowley put up a good fight.

If you missed Round One between PHN and 93-7, the Fan morning host Chris Mack, I won the battle when I convinced Mack the Penguins should protect Brandon Tanev, but I lost the war when the Penguins didn’t. 

Let the battle begin.

PHN Pittsburgh Penguins Debate, Opening statements:

Crowley: The Penguins should trade Marcus Pettersson, even if it means eating salary.

Ron Hextall and Brian Burke are saddled with the difficult task of keeping the Penguins competitive while also attempting to accrue assets and not leave the cupboard bare for the future. Jim Rutherford left the Pens brass in an unenviable position.

Taking over for GMJR at this particular moment is like playing in a golf scramble event where each of your three partners shanked the tee-shot onto the adjacent green. The offseason thus far has been something of a lay-up. Hextall and Burke could have gone for the green and risked hitting the ball into the woods.

Instead, they’ve played it safe.

But when you’ve got Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang, you’ve got to go for the pin. The Penguins, assuming the health of Malkin at some point during the season, still boast terrific center depth. They’ve got an excellent top defense pair. They’ve got a two-time Cup-winning coach.

What they’re missing is a capable goaltender. Tristan Jarry almost single-handedly led to the Penguins’ dismissal in the first round of the playoffs. They need better. Is that player available? I’m not sure. If he is, Hextall and Burke should pull out all the stops in an attempt to acquire him. Marcus Pettersson is a good defenseman. To attain a good player, you probably have to give one up. His cap hit is manageable, but he becomes even more attractive if the Pens pay a portion of his salary.

If that type of move can land Pittsburgh an upgrade in goal, the head brass should do it and not think twice about it.

Kingerski: What do with no money and no options?While it may sound like High School for many of us, the Penguins prospects of putting Marcus Pettersson on the NHL trade block follow those restrictive lines. A trade could both provide and suck up valuable salary-cap space.

And that’s the problem.

The Penguins don’t have assets, prospects, or cap space to spare to add to a trade package that would allow them to move Pettersson on the NHL trade market. See also (trigger warning) Jack Johnson’s buyout, which will be eating over $1.1 million and $1.9 million next season before settling into a lovely price tag of 916k for a few years.

In other words, to trade Marcus Pettersson to one of the interested teams would probably cost the Penguins another $1 million, if not $2 million for four more years, which means about $3 million per season in dead money. Or cost them a top prospect. Those are the rules now. Ouch. And double ouch.

Does anyone know that P.O. Joseph or Mark Friedman can handle everyday chores yet?


Crowley: If the Pittsburgh Penguins find a suitable netminder, I’m willing to deal with the dead money.

If I’m Hextall or Burke, I can’t allow Tristan Jarry to be my number one goaltender this year or into the future. The Penguins have a better chance of winning with a good goaltender and three-ish million dollars of dead cap money than with Jarry.

Cap-strapped teams need lesser-paid players to contribute! When the Pens won the cup in 2016, they did so with contributions from players such as Conor Sheary and Tom Kuhnhackl. Neither was a proven commodity—ditto Jake Guentzel in 2017. And while I’m certainly not saying that Pierre Olivier Joseph and Mark Friedman will make THAT kind of impact, I’ve liked aspects of what I’ve seen from each of them.

POJ makes 900K. Friedman makes 725K.

Kingerski: I just don’t get the Jarry poo-pooing. He had a bad playoff series, not a season, but let’s focus on Pettersson.

Mark Friedman is 25, and the Philadelphia Flyers were desperate for defensemen, but head coach Alain Vigneault still didn’t turn to Friedman. P.O. Joseph is listed over 180 pounds, but he must have had 10-pound shoes on when they weighed him.

Like everyone, I’m intrigued by both Friedman and Joseph, but not enough to put all of my eggs in their basket. Not yet. To trade Pettersson will cost the Penguins assets, not improve them, so the minimal savings have to be worth additional benefits. Hextall is a firm believer in not picking the fruit until it’s ripe, and there’s a lot to be said for making Joseph kick the door down before Hextall takes a beating with Pettersson on the NHL trade market.


What say you on the counts of the Pittsburgh Penguins trading Marcus Pettersson and eating salary to do so? The comments section below is all yours.