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PHN Penguins GM for a Day Contest: Day 2 Heavy Hitters



nhl trade, Pittsburgh Penguins, Free agent defensemen, Erik Gudbranson
UNIONDALE, NY - APRIL 12: New York Islanders right wing Jordan Eberle (7) is tied up with Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Erik Gudbranson (44) during a post goal celebration skirmish during game 2 of the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs between the New York Islanders and the Pittsburgh Penguins on April 12, 2019 at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, NY. (Photo by John McCreary/Icon Sportswire)

Pittsburgh Hockey Now’s GM for a Day contest received a fair amount of submissions before our midnight Sunday cutoff. To be the Pittsburgh Penguins GM for a day with full autonomy elicited the kind of responses we hoped for and expected. Most of our submissions tried to trade Jack Johnson. Some traded him for nothing, and one dealt him in a package to Buffalo for Rasmus Ristolainen.

We haven’t pointed this out before because we thought it was obvious, but just in case, this contest is in no way affiliated with the Pittsburgh Penguins or the NHL. You won’t actually get to be the GM. You won’t sit in Jim Rutherford’s chair or get to rummage through his drawers, either.

These are the other three submissions which will be included on the ballot. Voting will begin tomorrow after we publish some of our more well-meaning, and amusing submissions. Voting will take place on Facebook, Twitter, and a post here on Pittsburgh Hockey Now.

Let’s rock…

Submission #4: Hatrick Pornqvist

It’s hard to be a fan of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Really hard. No sarcasm. I mean it. 

Five Stanley Cups? Ouch. Three in 9 years, including back to backs? You poor things. A who’s who of NHL legends donning our jerseys over the span of multiple decades? Should I stop whining now? 

Things are actually looking up. It’s been a good offseason. 

Mr. Pornqvist is actually quite content. Could they be better? Of course, any team’s D could be. But in his opinion, things are extremely far from the scorched earth dystopian Mad Max post-apocalyptic hellscape that so many poor souls lament about online on a daily basis. The expectations of the Penguins faithful are a heavy, heavy burden. They just need a nap. All is well.

We are younger. We are faster. We have a room that’s ready to come back together. The only way to go is up. The cherry on top? We have a phenomenal new GM, just for a day, and his name is Hatrick Pornqvist. And he has a plan. Here’s what it is:

First of all, the forward group looks as good as it has in ages. Look at the options down the middle. Sid, Geno, Bjugstad, McCann, Blueger, and even Galchenyuk. Any team in the league would be thrilled to have that. And the last four can play wing. Versatility, speed, size, skill. It’s all there. 

Now, what do we have on the wings? Well, we lost Phil Kessel, may he rest in Phoenix. That’s what I assume R.I.P. stands for in hockey. But look at our wingers. Pretty nice crop there. Guentzel, McCann, Hornqvist, Galchenyuk, Rust, Kahun, Bjugstad, Tanev, ZAR, Simon. That’s a good bunch. Very good. 

In net? All good, nothing to see here people. 

So as GM for a day, all that leaves me, is the D. But are they really that big of an issue? This GM thinks no.  And he really doesn’t want to do much.

For this new GM For a day, most of the hard work has been done already by his colleague, peer, and clear equal, Mr. Jim Rutherford (he deserves the respect of having his name mentioned here alongside GMHP, he’s earned that). 

GMJR is correct in believing the D is not an issue. Asking Juuso Riikola to play 82 games plus the playoffs is not the right play at this juncture. Trading away whipping boy Jack Johnson for cap space to make room for young Juuso to do it is imprudent. Depth is better. Options are better. That’s what we have now. We need to leave it and not turn a strength into a weakness that hinges on a gamble on an unproven youngster. GMHP doesn’t want to see 1 or 2 injuries force his team to have 2 or 3 guys in his lineup that played a lot of AHL minutes last year. He wants to see what that defence that played so well late in the regular season is capable of, before messing with it or taking unnecessary risks. 

Things can wait. Mr. Pornqvist wants to see what pans out this coming season first. It’s a prudent move. Ignore the online mob. That’s the plan. Marcus Petterssen doesn’t need 20 minutes a night right now. One day he will. He’s that good. But it’s not worth rushing. The D can handle things the way they are built right now. We’ve actually witnessed it already. The delegation of blue line minutes can be handled in-season by the future hall of fame coach Mike Sullivan, not forced on him from above.

There’s just really a tiny bit of housekeeping to do. Maybe one tough decision. How do we get Petterssen, ZAR, and Blueger signed while leaving this team as intact as possible? 

How? Lose a winger.  A guy who’s had some big moments.  A guy who teams want.  A guy who gives us the money we need.  A guy who we have reasonable fill-ins for right now.  A guy named Bryan Rust.

He’s the unfortunate consequence of having everything else in place and having a lot of good NHL wingers. Trade him to a young team, that can absorb his cap hit and wants to challenge for a playoff spot. A western conference team. One we have a history of doing business with. One who might want a good young goalie from Western Canada. One that likes Swedish prospects and players.

From them get a player with speed.  [A player improving year to year who may be underrated. One who we can make the money work with. One that can do what Rust did bit with more potential upside. Maybe more than just a bit. Maybe lots. One who’s been in rumour mills for a long time and needs a change of scenery, and may not be part of the future plans for his current team. Make a good sensible trade for both teams.

Trade Bryan Rust, Tristan Jarry, and Fillip Hallander to the Vancouver Canucks for Jake Virtanen. Do it now. 

Now sign ZAR to a 3-year deal at $1.2M per year. Sign Blueger for 2 years at $925k. Go get Marcus Petterssen to sign for 4 years at $2.3M. GMHP is done. He hands the reigns back to his contemporary and mentor GMJR. 

The opening night roster is:

Guentzel Crosby McCann 

Galchenyuk Malkin Virtanen 

Kahun Bjugstad Hornqvist 

ZAR Blueger Tanev 


Dumoulin Letang 

Johnson Schultz 

Petterssen Gudbranson 

Murray DeSmith

Mr. Pornqvist’s work is over.  Chill. Wait for training camp. Enjoy your summer. Calm down. Scope out a good spot to watch the parade. You’re welcome.

Editors note: We hade to remove sections of this awesome submission to fit within the 1000 word rule. Some pretty funny stuff.

Submission #5 Josh Houser

The 2019-2020 Pittsburgh Penguins want to return to a game that makes them a faster team and harder to play against. In order to make this happen the Penguins still have a couple of moves to make to obtain this goal. If I were in GMJR’s shoes for 24 hours here is how I would follow through on this goal.


Step 1: Re-sign Teddy Blueger & Marcus Pettersson.
Re-signing both of these RFAs should not be an issue and I believe the contract negotiations would be agreed to fairly quickly. I would re-sign Blueger to a 1 year deal worth 850k and Pettersson to a 2-year deal worth 2 million per year.
Step 2: Offer Zach-Aston Reese & Erik Grudbranson to the Ottawa Senators for a 2021 4th round pick.
The idea here is to create much-needed cap space not only for Pettersson and Blueger but also for the moves I would make that will follow. I love what ZAR and Grudbranson bring to the lineup with their physicality however paying a 3rd pair defensemen 4 million per year is not an ideal scenario.
Step 3: Offer Nick Bjugstad, Jack Johnson, Casey DeSmith & a 2020 4th round pick to the Minnesota Wild for Jason Zucker with 1 million retained salary.
Here we would be acquiring a 30 goal scorer from 2 years ago in hopes he will be able to return to form especially playing alongside Evgeni Malkin. The loss of Bjugstad is a tough pill to swallow however Jared McCann would be able to fill his role at a much much cheaper cost.
Step 4: Offer Filip Hallander, a 2021 2nd round pick & a 2022 3rd round pick to the Vegas Golden Knights for the RFA rights to Nikita Gusev.
Vegas needs cap space in a bad way and are looking to move Gusev for the right price. Since Vegas has cap issues, they will not be looking to take salary back in a trade, therefore, prospects or picks are the way to go. The Penguins should be all over this and look to acquire Gusev at almost any cost. Here we are trading one of our better prospects plus a 3rd round pick for Gusev. The idea here is that we are acquiring an outstanding talent that could play alongside Evgeni Malkin as well. It is also a player that Malkin is very familiar with. Gusev has outstanding numbers from his time playing in the KHL. Last year he played in 62 games scoring 82 points (17 goals, 65 assists). Now let’s compare those stats to another particular someone, Artemi Panarin. In 2014-2015, Panarin played in 54 games scoring 62 points (26 goals, 36 assists) in the KHL. Gusev averaged 1.32 points per game while Panarin averaged 1.14 points per game. Ironically they both played for St. Petersburg SKA. Now I know you are going to say that’s a terrible comparison because Panarin was younger and it is a 5-year gap and so on. Yes, I know. The main point is Gusev can play and I believe he will not turn out to be Sergei Plotnikov. Nikita Gusev is 100% worth the risk and the real deal in my opinion. 
Step 5: Sign Nikita Gusev to a 2-year deal worth 3.75 million per year.
Rumors have it that Gusev is looking for a 2-year deal worth 4 million per year. However, we are hoping that playing alongside Malkin will give us some bargaining power over Gusev and he will sign right below his ask of 4 million.
Step 6: Sign UFA Ben Lovejoy to a 1-year contract worth 1.4 million.
This is purely a depth signing for our 3rd pairing defense.


Mike Sullivan always preaches about how he loves to roll 4 lines. Here is a perfect example of that mentality coming to life. There is depth throughout every single line and every line is hard to play against especially our checking lines.

Our depth here is nowhere near as strong as our forwards. However, it is time to figure out 2 very important questions. Can Marcus Pettersson handle a top 4 role & can Juuso Riikola handle an 82 game season as a regular? Only time will tell but we have capable backups in Ruhwedel and Trotman.

With this 23 man roster listed above and the contracts we have handed out, we would still be below the cap ceiling by roughly 1 million. GMJR likes going into the season with at least 1 million worth of cap space so I kept that in mind while putting together the 2019-2020 Pittsburgh Penguins.

I have laid out a plan for both GMJR and Mike Sullivan, now it is their time to execute it and bring home another Stanley Cup. Sullivan may have to tweak the line combinations until he finds the correct mixture but he has all the ingredients he needs in his forwards. As for the d-pairings, he may need Rutherfords help in addressing the 2nd and 3rd LD if Pettersson or Riikola begin to stumble. Other than that, Mike Sullivan and GMJR can sit back, relax and enjoy the rest of their summers on vacation knowing they have a Stanley Cup contender when camp arrives in September.

Editors note: We edited Josh’s submission for brevity. Good stuff!

Submission #6: CC Smith

Considering the roster is pretty well stacked with talent and hard to move contracts, few feasible moves are available.  The one area that logically makes sense for a trade is the defense.  If a contract is moved out from defense, the Penguins can maintain a decent level of depth at the forward position by signing ZAR and Teddy B.

This brings us to Jack Johnson and Eric Gudbranson. JJ is actually the easier of the two to move. The lower cap hit helps, but the term hurts. A one-for-one trade likely does not help the Pens as a team would want similar term/money going back.  Therefore JJ would need to be moved to a team in need of a left-handed D and with cap space to burn. That leaves LA as my destination for Johnson.

The offer would be JJ and a 2022 3rd for Kurtis MacDermid. This would free up over 2.5 million in space for Pens and they would receive a righty depth Dman.  As for the Kings, they get JJ but a third-round pick. If necessary, I would use the 2nd round over the 3rd because I value Teddy B as much as what that pick would likely bring.

With the 1.5 and 2.5 saved, the Pens have 4 million to work with. I start with a 3-year, $6 million offer to Pettersson. Blueger for 2-years, $1.75 million and ZAR, 1-year, $1 million.

With all roster moves involved that should leave the Pens with about 1 million in cap space.

Bonus Submission: Sandy from Sweden

1) The first is to make a trade with Anaheim

Jack Johnson and Dominik Simon  <>  3rd (and maybe if you can get Josh Mahura?).

Pittsburgh SAVES $4 million.


2) Resign our RFA:s.

-Marcus Pettersson 1.4million/3 year

-Zach Ashton-Reese 950k/2 year

-Teddy Blueeger 750k/2 year.

COST 3.1 million


3) Send Zach Trotman and Chad Ruhwedel down.

Save 1.4 million.

So cap space so far is $3.89 million.

Next step, what do we need?

Lineup so far










So what do we need?

Free agents left:

1) Michael Ferland 3million/4year could be worth it. 

2) Jason Pominville 1million/1year fourth line experience

3)Ben Hutton for 2.5 million/2 year can play 3-pairing with Gudbranson if Riikola is a bust.

Either off them above would I be Ok with.

Interesting thoughts

-Rust $3.5 million I think we can move him because the new guys can fill in for him.

If we could move him in maybe a bigger trade for a defenseman/forward with Galchenyuk/Schultz/Jarry.

Some targets to look at:

-Ramus Ristolainen. I know everyone thinks he is bad but playing behind Letang would benefit him.

-Artturi Lehkonen. Just get him

-Scott Mayfield. Nice contract and plays the game smart.

-R. Rakell would be awesome with us

-Dougie Hamilton as the number 2 guy behind Letang yikes

-Oskar Sundqvist. Get him back. He was great in the playoffs.

-Nicholas Ehlers with that speed………


Editors Note: If you write from Sweden, you get published! Thanks, Sandy. The trade targets are interesting. We’re sorry Ferland didn’t work out for your team. 

Check back tomorrow for some interesting submissions and the start of voting! Leave your comments below. Respect required.

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Hatrick Pornqvist (The Real)
Hatrick Pornqvist (The Real)
3 years ago

Dude stole my name.

Hatrick Pornqvist
Hatrick Pornqvist
3 years ago

I’ve been Hatrick Pornqvist since the day I was born!!

Kevin Strafalace
Kevin Strafalace
3 years ago

these are nice thoughts but in reality at this point moving JJ or Guds is going to take sending something of value out with no return. No team is Giving good returns for JJ + spare parts. There’s a shift in doing business this yr in the NHL. The few GMs that have cap space left are being smart. Only way JR is unloading a bad contract is if a 1st or good player goes with him or we take back an equally bad player/contract in return. Now GMJR has to adapt or go away

3 years ago

PORNY knows how good and deep this team is.

3 years ago

Hopefully this was a good learning experience – that it’s not as easy as it looks. – Seems like only 1 viable submission so far. – A lot of “maybe if we package JJ with ____” submissions; ditto for Simon and, surprisingly, Gudbranson. Mostly losing deals. – Relatedly, too many people undervaluing our proven assets, basically offering to give them away. – A lot of “we hope that ____ accepts our massive trade” as a core part of their strategy. Not really viable. – A lot of submissions that would leave glaring holes in the lineups, especially at D and… Read more »

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