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PHN Blog: Penguins Draft Scenarios, Rumors Don’t Pass Smell Test

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Pittsburgh Penguins, Kris Letang

Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ron Hextall has not tipped his hand regarding the NHL Draft or the Penguins’ hopes therein. The Fort Knox approach to the Penguins’ front office dealings of hockey operations cracked slightly last week when the president of hockey operations, Brian Burke, first talked to Pittsburgh Hockey Now. Still, there was little news other than that the Penguins would not wait forever on Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin.

A few days later, a few NHL rumors popped up that did not pass the smell test but went far and wide nonetheless. In this PHN Blog, we’ll also look a the Penguins’ draft scenarios, including one scenario by which they could trade down to recoup picks.

First, the NHL trade rumors and free agency chatter.

Let’s be clear, the agents for Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang are not talking. They’ve admitted hardship in negotiations, and that’s it. I’m not sure where the first chatter appeared, but the hot internet rumor has the Carolina Hurricanes going after Evgeni Malkin.

I see it all over Facebook, each rumor site repeating the other rumor sites.

So, let me get this straight — the Carolina Hurricanes cannot afford Vincent Trocheck but CAN afford Evgeni Malkin?

Also, the Carolina Hurricanes are interested in Kris Letang? The same team having trouble re-signing Anthony DeAngelo?

And the Tampa Bay Lightning are going hard after Kris Letang? The same team that just dumped Ryan McDonagh because they were over the salary cap will chase a 35-year-old defenseman who wants a much bigger payday than McDonagh’s $6 million?

Yeah, ummm, I’m going to go have to sort of … disagree with you there.

For the record, a team source told PHN on Tuesday there’s been a feeling that a Letang deal would get done. The issue has been years, not dollars. However, Hextall is not a chatty sort, and outside of the few people directly involved, specifics are not available.

My gut still says the contract will be for three years, north of $8 million, or four years at around $8 million, but that’s purely a gut feeling. If Letang would accept a three-year deal at $8 million AAV, it would have been done already, right?

Pittsburgh Penguins Draft Scenario

**Dateline: On my way to Montreal with Molinari in tow.

Later today, Dave Molinari will reveal what sources have told him about the Penguins’ draft plans, including any Penguins trade chatter or the process by which a trade might materialize.

However, let’s flip the scenario of the Penguins’ needs. We’ve been over the handful of players who generally fit the Penguins system. What if all of Frank Nazar, Isaac Howard, Brad Lambert, or other 21st overall-appropriate players are taken by the time the Penguins pick rolls around?

The Penguins could reach, or …

One player we also have eyes on is undersized Team USA defenseman Lane Hutson, who has elite skates and offensive skill but is only 5-foot-9 and less than 160 pounds. He’s generally rated in the 30s and 40s by most scouting services.

Could the Penguins trade down for a player they like, such as Hutson, to recoup a third or fourth-rounder?

It makes sense, pending how the draft board shakes out. Former Ottawa Senators executive Pierre McGuire recently told our friends at Montreal Hockey Now that he was not enamored with the talent pool in the 2022 NHL Draft. He exaggerated slightly to compare it to the barren 1999 draft, including former Penguins trade acquisition Kris Keech at seventh overall.

Let’s assume Letang gets at least $8 million. The Penguins could use an extra pick to attach to a high-priced player whose value may not meet salary for a salary dump.

While the above scenario is unlikely, we know this isn’t a typical offseason. The number of pieces and parts the Pittsburgh Penguins must add probably exceeds the money available without some unconventional measures.

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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Chris R
Chris R
1 month ago

Corey Pronman of the Athletic calls Lane Hutson the smartest player in the draft and “a highly skilled puckhandler who shows great creativity off the offensive blue line.” Pronman also says Hutson’s skating could be faster but his edgework is quite good. Despite his small stature (5′ 81/2″/148 lbs.), Hutson sounds like a pick with the potential to pay off in spades.

Keith T.
Keith T.
1 month ago

I think a lot of the “chatter” out there is just a bunch of crapolla that fills up the internet & airwaves with talk to fill dead space. Smart GM’s will keep things confidential. As frustrating as the silence happens to be for fans and journalists, I believe that is far more professional and in the end more productive for directly involved parties. People (including some journalists) love the clicks to get their numbers up but it is what it is……… Professional journalists practice caution and note speculation as opposed to good information or solid reliable leads. There are a… Read more »

Irish Hammer
Irish Hammer
1 month ago
Reply to  Keith T.

Keith, your comments are right on. To create activity. Shit I’m friends with some guys that played with Pens and Steelers and they will tell you most GMs are very tight lipped. But to his credit Dan has the best site. Let’s his readers respond to their side of articles and rumors. His opinions to these rumors are surprising compared to other journalists in Pittsburgh.

Stephen Powanda
Stephen Powanda
1 month ago

WOW Dan we do not need another Smurf like Hutson. We need some size. I hope we get some on 7-13.

Pete
Pete
1 month ago

Exactly!

Kurt Hartz
Kurt Hartz
1 month ago

I agree, if there is nothing great in this year’s draft pool just take a few of the biggest and most physical player’s in this draft, don’t you think it’s about time the Penguins do to their rival’s what them team’s did to the Star player’s for the pens and throw a lot of dirty hits at their young star’s? Paybacks would be a dream come true !!!

Mark
Mark
1 month ago

Just say no to 5’9”, 160 lb. defensemen. I don’t care how good he skates or how good his passes are. He still his to defend, and in today’s NHL he’ll be little more than a rag doll for opposing teams.

Phil
Phil
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark

Really cause cale makar is 5’11 185 and adam fox 5’11 180 the last two Norris trophy winners. Can’t just focus on size if the player is not skilled enough to play in the NHL. I would love for the pens to add size but they had two guys who were big and physical. Erik gudbranson and jack Johnson. But they were slow and the fan base blamed them for dragging down the blueline and slowing down the rush. So I’m all for size but can they play the style the pens want to play? And size and skill wont… Read more »

Mark Fisher
Mark Fisher
1 month ago

Just say no to Hutson. He’ll be tossed around like a rag doll.

Pete
Pete
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark Fisher

Yep!

Frank
Frank
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark Fisher

If he is listed at 5’9” and 160 I have to think he is even smaller. Imagine how that skating skill holds up in the corner with a 6’2” 220 pound Bad tempered forward! Road kill.
Anytime I read about a player that includes his skating ability and skill first before they get to size I always expect these minion-like dimensions.

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