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PHN Q&A: Murray, Hornqvist, Trades and What About…?

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Pittsburgh Penguins Patric Hornqvist

Welcome to the second Pittsburgh Hockey Now Q&A. We open the floor for you to direct the conversation and dig for details I don’t want to give, or stories we haven’t published. The Pittsburgh Penguins trade winds are blowing, and Matt Murray is likely the next move, but Penguins GM Jim Rutherford must also patch holes in the lineup, which will not be filled in a goalie trade.

There were gobs of questions about Nick Bjugstad and Patric Hornqvist, and I’ll get to those. Many others asked some variation of, “what player can the Penguins get…”

I wish I could answer those questions with specificity. The stark reality is the Penguins can barely afford a free lunch, and there are players who will be available that are not yet available. There will be some surprise free agents and a few players will hit the trade block, whom we don’t expect.

Before another Penguins trade, Rutherford must make a couple of decisions and dominos are going to fall, but it does not appear he has yet made some of those decisions.

Without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages, the PHN Q&A:

Q1:

What would be the pens looking for in a trade with Murray? A buy out or maybe a high draft pick.

— JP (@PucksterPyro) September 10, 2020

A1: PHN has done the analysis of all starting goalie trades since 2013. There are some highwater marks (Philip Grubauer), and some low marks (Ben Bishop), but the general rule is a high draft pick and a prospect. Cmon, JP, you gotta read PHN every day!

The template for the Murray trade will be a second-round pick and a second-tier prospect. However, Pierre LeBrun of TSN implied Rutherford is asking for a No. 1.

Q2:

A2: The power play needs speed, decisiveness, malicious intent with the puck, and a little scheming to avoid increasingly aggressive PK units. Bonus answer: Rust is good.

Q3:

A3: Johnson won’t be buried in the minors this season. He’s a primary penalty killer, and one of the defensive presences on the blue line. Excitement is building for P-O, within and outside the organization, but my gut says he’ll need a bit more salt in the AHL before he’s truly ready for unsheltered minutes.

The real question is Juuso Riikola. He’s got all of the tools necessary to be a good defenseman, but he needs ice time. However, he also needs the right defensive partner. I don’t think Chad Ruhwedel is that partner. Johnson needs a slick partner, while Riikola needs a stable partner. Perhaps the Penguins can slip Riikola through waivers now that he has a two year deal with an annual salary over $1 million.

As for what I would do? I’m saving that advice for the team that gives me a seven-figure paycheck. It is fair to say, I would have started my offseason differently than Rutherford, and would have held the first-rounder.

Q4:

A4: We haven’t heard of much talk around either, but the Murray deal is sucking the air out of the market. The Penguins may need Bjugstad to be their third-line center. Or they may need to repurpose his salary. I don’t get the feeling there are firm decisions, yet.

As for Hornqvist, the Penguins can’t afford to trade him and they can’t afford to pay him. Rock meet hard place, hard place meet rock.

Q5:

A5: We don’t yet know. We’re not sure Rutherford knows. Bjugstad showed pretty quickly upon his arrival in Pittsburgh that he is a center, at least with a quick team like the Penguins. Perhaps he could return to the wing in a more lateral system, but Bjugstad is a pivot in the Penguins vertical game.

I don’t think there is much of a market for Bjugstad. A team may take a flyer on him with some salary holdback, but Bjugstad’s 13-game season and spinal surgery did not warm the market.

There is hope if the Penguins keep Bjugstad. He and Hornqvist, with Dominik Simon, dominated the puck and scoring chances in 2018-19. The trio was above 60% share of shot attempts and scoring chances when they were on the ice.

Q6:

A6: 50/50. Other decisions will affect Hornqvist’s status. If the Penguins can keep him, I suspect they will. You don’t find players like him.

Q7:

A7: There are some inexpensive options at RD, including Trevor Daley. The forward crop is thin and not really beneficial to the Penguins, at least in the Penguins price range.

Thanks, yinz! We appreciate the huge support and waves of subscribers who have been finding us for the first time. This is our third season, and my 19th year covering hockey. Stick around. After all, the Edmonton Journal can’t be wrong!

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now owner, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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Dean
Dean
10 days ago

Dan, it is great to have a sports writer in Pittsburgh that undervalues every player that the team may want to move and one that, in-spite of ever analytic stat, dramatically overvalues one of the worst performing players in the league. No wonder you get a comment like that from Edmonton (dah). Must be starving for love.

Katz
Katz
10 days ago

Please step back and take an uninvested evaluation of the Pittsburgh Penguins current state and possibilities. 1) 3 years out early and getting embarrassed 2) losing draft picks for players that have been moved out. Contracts given far over value. And existing contacts mismatched you performance production or hunger. Now look at the current asset – liability statement Best asset traded: First Round pick traded for a player was traded away previously. Murray is really not that desired contrary to some opinion writers and insiders . But it only takes one . However he is a restricted Free Agent an… Read more »

Dean
Dean
10 days ago
Reply to  Katz

Katz, you have a 1 sided tainted view and you prove it by maligning ever player, including giving a top 10 center away for nothing. The things you do not take into consideration is 1. there are no guaranties on any assets that are being returned in a trade (e.g. 1. forward prospects have less than a 30% chance being any more than a bottom 6 player, 2. Brassard, or 3. Galchenyuk), 2. the performance struggles of a player being returned (e.g. Mittelstadt who has under performed may never be more than a bottom 6 forward), 3. the other alternatives… Read more »

Katz
Katz
10 days ago
Reply to  Dean

Thank you for your reply. Not giving away a top ten Center. If Malkin will not waive his NTC or he pouts and leaves for Russia then you save $9,500,000.00 in Cap space.? Would you sign Malkin today for $9,500,000.00?

The others I’m not “maligning” just a honest opinion. Who do you feel is worth more than I mentioned? Let the market prove me wrong.

Last edited 10 days ago by Katz
Dean
Dean
10 days ago
Reply to  Katz

You really are. Malkin is tradable with his $9.5M cap hit to teams that want to win now. Again, including first line centers he is a top 10 center in the league. He is why Rust was on pace for 40 goals. You saw Guentzel actually increase his scoring pace playing with Malkin. He makes the players aground him better. Top centers do not grow on trees. Just getting rid of the salary is nothing.

Katz
Katz
10 days ago
Reply to  Dean

Thank you again. The proof is in the pudding. He has been MIA for the last three playoffs . Actually harmed the team with incomprehensible decisions and lazy penalty’s. Let’s watch him for the 4th straight playoffs…. if make them and revisit.
Anders Lee makes$7,000,000. William Nylander makes $6,962,0000. Patrice Bergeron makes $6,875,000 Braden Point $6,750,000. All I at least would prefer over Malkin. Just do you know the market.

Ricardo58
Ricardo58
9 days ago
Reply to  Katz

Katz, I understand where you are coming from. Certainly, the Pens need 71 to perform in the playoffs as he has performed in the regular seasons. The premium on top line centers are through the roof. The Pens 3rd line has struggled since the loss of Bonino. In order to receive, you must give. The Pens haven’t won a Cup without 2 of the 3 recognized core. However, a cup was won without 58. I’m not a hater on 58. I just think 58 would bring assets to the teams new style of play as the style would have to… Read more »

Dean
Dean
9 days ago
Reply to  Ricardo58

Ricardo, Letang is at least a better topic than moving Malkin, which will not happen this year. If we can find a replacement for Letang then we should make him available too. We have far too many bottom 6 forwards and an extra starting goalie and these guys all have value. Just go look at some of the teams bottom 6 and you will see that the guys listed below will be an upgrade for many teams. We really should be talking about trading: Murray Bjugstad ZAR Hornqvist Tanev Simon Angelo Lafferty Here are guys from the Oilers bottom 6,… Read more »

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