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Penguins Trade Talk: What is Jamie Oleksiak Worth?

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Jamie Oleksiak: Photo by Michael Miller

The latest little nugget from Pierre LeBrun on TSN highlighted the silliness of the 2019 NHL trade deadline and quickly spawned several NHL trade rumors.  LeBrun reported the Pittsburgh Penguins are targeting Carolina Hurricanes power forward Michael Ferland and could send Derick Brassard to Carolina as an asset for Carolina to flip.

Seems absolutely crazy, doesn’t it?

Though Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen should be on the phone to Carolina Hurricanes Don Waddell immediately to be that third team.

Yes, the trade season is in full silliness mode, but this year the glut of talent has added an entirely new dimension. Teams can target players but have solid backup plans if the price is wrong.

And so Pittsburgh Hockey Now looked back through the last two years of trades to ascertain values for several Pittsburgh Penguins who could get that call from GM Jim Rutherford. Of course, predicting values in this flooded market comes with some peril and a few asterisks. Today, we’ll begin with Jamie Oleksiak. Tomorrow Derick Brassard.

Jamie Oleksiak

Oleksiak is a hulking defenseman capable of top-four minutes, painful hits, a bit of offense from the right or left side and an affordable contract control at $2.1 million for two years beyond this season. It’s only the Penguins abundance of defensemen which makes him available.

Over the past two seasons, there has not been a comparable defenseman dealt. There have been pending UFAs like Michael Kempny, who was not as well thought of then with Chicago as he is now with Washington. Ian Cole was dealt twice last season, but the trade which focused on Cole was from Ottawa to Columbus.

Like Kempny, Cole was also a pending UFA. And both brought a third-round pick in return. The New York Islanders acquired Brandon Davidson, 27, from the Edmonton Oilers for–drum roll please–a third rounder.

Only Cole would have been genuinely comparable to Oleksiak but the rental status lowered the return.

In 2016, the Penguins set the market by acquiring Ron Hainsey from the Carolina Hurricanes for a second-round pick. Comparable to Oleksiak, Arizona dealt Michael Stone to Calgary for…a third-round pick. But again Stone was a pending UFA.

In short, teams don’t often deal defensemen. Certainly not ones under control and ones who aren’t struggling. Oleksiak’s control could elevate his price to a second rounder, or a middle line winger; a marginal second line talent but capable third-liner type.

And since Peter Chiarelli is no longer the Edmonton Oilers, getting Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for Oleksiak no longer seems to be even a one-in-a-thousand shot.

The Penguins may well opt to take the second-round pick and the $2.1 million cap space which could free them up to be more aggressive with other moves, such as Derick Brassard.

Also plausible is the packaging of Brassard with a defenseman. Brassard’s ridiculously low cap hit–$3 million–thanks to Vegas GM George McPhee picking up $2 million to keep Brassard away from Winnipeg allows the Penguins to package Brassard without breaking another team’s cap structure.

Interestingly enough, the Winnipeg Jets are known to be shopping for a second line center and a left-handed defenseman. Winnipeg certainly values size. Winnipeg is the tallest and fifth heaviest team in the league. If the plane doesn’t burn the most fuel in the league, then the battles for the extra leg-room seats must be intense.

The Penguins overstocked the shelves but are not without options. And from the growing number of sources and whispers, Oleksiak is a prime candidate to be the odd-man out to alleviate the numbers, but based on recent history it may be “numbers” in the form of draft picks which come back to the Penguins.

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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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