Connect with us

Penguins

Projecting the Penguins’ Lines After Big Weekend Trades

Published

on

Pittsburgh Penguins, Bryan Rust, Jake Guentzel

When he was hired as the Pittsburgh Penguins’ general manager, Ron Hextall bristled at the notion that he was a conservative GM who exclusively built through the draft.

“I’m not a one-trick pony,” he said when he was hired.

The Penguins’ personnel combinations certainly got a shuffle on Saturday, when Hextall retooled his defense corps. Out went Mike Matheson and John Marino. In came a few million dollars of salary-cap space, Montreal Canadiens d-man Jeff Petry, forward Ryan Poehling, and Ty Smith, a blue-chip prospect/reclamation project from New Jersey. The Penguins also picked up New Jersey’s third-round pick, which should be much better than the fourth-rounder they parted with in the Petry trade.

After those moves and the 11th-hour signing of Evgeni Malkin, the Penguins’ lines are taking shape.

Penguins Lines:

Jake Guentzel–Sidney Crosby–Bryan Rust

Jason Zucker–Evgeni Malkin–Rickard Rakell

Brock McGinn–Jeff Carter–Kasperi Kapanen

Josh Archibald–Teddy Blueger–Drew O’Connor

13th: Ryan Poehling

Aside from Teddy Blueger, the Penguins’ fourth line could take several shapes. Marco D’Amico from Montreal Hockey Now told us that Poehling is “a center or bust.”

Perhaps Poehling edges Archibald or O’Connor for a lineup spot. He certainly has the talent. We think Archibald sticks somewhere in the lineup because of his PK skills. Right now, the Penguins’ PK would include Jeff Carter as a primary penalty-killer, which is not ideal for a 37-year-old offensive-minded pivot.

PK: Archibald, Blueger, McGinn, O’Connor (?)

O’Connor was working on penalty-killing. We’ll see if he’s able to handle it at the NHL level. Poehling spent less than 20 minutes shorthanded last season, so he’s not a penalty-killer by nature, either.

Pittsburgh Penguins Defensemen:

Now, here’s where it is interesting. Hextall said the Penguins would not carry nine defensemen next season. However, he traded two, but acquired two on Saturday. The only out is that Ty Smith, 22, can be sent to the AHL without passing through waivers.

Brian Dumoulin–Kris Letang

Marcus Pettersson–Jeff Petry

P.O Joseph–Jan Rutta

7th & 8th: Friedman, Ruhwedel

Inserting opinion, Friedman is probably the better option on the third pairing, but at some point, Joseph has to get his chance. October and November hockey is the perfect time to let the rookie learn.

Joseph may become the best option, or Friedman could land the role by default.

The wild card is Smith. If he finds his 2020-21 rookie form, when he had 23 points (2-21-23) in 48 games and received praise from all corners, he might be the best option for the third pairing.

Smith is good on his skates. He also has vision and hands. Smith was the 17th overall pick in 2018, but if he doesn’t win the job in camp, he’s ticketed for the WBS Penguins. Otherwise, the Penguins will lose whoever they try to slip through waivers.

The depth is a strength. but probably won’t make a couple of players very happy.

If Hextall can’t move Pettersson, Ruhwedel is going to get a lot of press-box nachos. Ruhwedel is a solid and capable defender who has an NHL contract. However, having him spend months as a healthy scratch isn’t in the Penguins’ best interest, either. Since Friedman is right-handed and can play both sides, the Pittsburgh Penguins may find Ruhwedel is a trade chip to fill out another small need.

In the playoffs, Sullivan occasionally dropped Pettersson to the third pair. If Joseph adapts well, he could take that second-pairing role with Petry. It would be a mobile combo with some offensive skill.

Subscribe to PHN+

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.

30 Comments
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
30 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Dean
Dean
26 days ago

Dan, it would be great if you or Dave address the Zucker situation. Zucker and the Pens are in a tough spot. He had surgery in January and couldn’t play 10 minutes before getting hurt. In the playoffs he couldn’t sit on the bench. A common symptom of a core muscle injury. I assume it was a level 2 injury since he has not had surgery and Hextall said he didn’t require it. If he plays, all the sudden starting and stopping has a high probability to re injure it. Eventually, you would think he will have to have surgery… Read more »

Gooey
Gooey
26 days ago
Reply to  Dean

I agree, but who is going to take him at that contract for even one year? You would think the other 31 teams think the same thing and are not going to pony up players/picks and take on that cap hit for him.

Dean
Dean
25 days ago
Reply to  Gooey

The plan could be LTIR, retirement, get a free agent on the cheap and send a couple of players to the minors until you need them (maybe guys like McGinn or Pettersson that you would be ok if they got picked up on waivers) or …

Assuming that he will be our 2nd line LW feels like wishful thinking and a paper exercise.

Bob
Bob
25 days ago
Reply to  Gooey

Why doesn’t our former GM take him since he coveted him and traded our future away for him.

Ryan
Ryan
24 days ago
Reply to  Dan Kingerski

You hate to use buyouts…but they’re kinda hamstringing building a much stronger team with pettersson, zucker and Kapanen hanging around at $12 cap hit. That’s a stupid line to draw considering how many old guys you got under contract.

Kris
Kris
24 days ago
Reply to  Dean

I’m sorry, didn’t Sid have core muscle surgery a couple of seasons ago. He seems kind of OK now, no?

Dean
Dean
20 days ago
Reply to  Kris

He didn’t re injury it in less than 10 minutes of playing.

Knobman
Knobman
26 days ago

All the moves done on Saturday and the line-up is still weak. This team goes nowhere with McGinn on the third line and Kapanen on the team. Why was he given a QO? Fifteen guys to choose from for fourth line wingers and none of them can stick in the nhl. We better hope that the top six can play 82 games.

Gooey
Gooey
26 days ago
Reply to  Knobman

He received the QO so that he can be traded for something eventually. Hopefully ASAP, but no later than early October…

Brandon O
Brandon O
25 days ago
Reply to  Knobman

Because he has a little value and it would terrible asset management to let him walk for nothing. At best he bounces back at less salary, at worst you trade him for a mid round pick. The guy clearly has some talent, I don’t understand this fixation with hating on qualifying him at 840k.

Ryan
Ryan
24 days ago
Reply to  Brandon O

See the thing about “assets” is if you’re stuck with them and everyone knows it…it’s no longer an asset.

William Maloni
William Maloni
26 days ago

C’mon Dan, where are the grit and sand???

Mark Fisher
Mark Fisher
26 days ago

Waste Zahorna for another year.

Brandon O
Brandon O
25 days ago
Reply to  Mark Fisher

He’s 26, hardly a prospect and at 6’6 220, doesnt use his weight enough to be a physical force that anyone enamored by his size thinks he is. He is what he is at this point, a tweener thst hasnt stuck yet but has had a few chances. This training camp will make or break his future with a ceiling as a 4th liner. Personally I’d rather see guys like puustinen or poulin or now poehling make the team as they offer more potential.

Mark Fisher
Mark Fisher
25 days ago
Reply to  Brandon O

Yeah, a big guy who skates well, takes up space, and can rip the puck. God forbid they would give that guy a chance.

maybeTROLLn
maybeTROLLn
24 days ago
Reply to  Mark Fisher

i think brando summed it up well. but still, i dont get why he didnt have more chances to gel with a few of the lines throughout these past years.

Kris
Kris
24 days ago
Reply to  Mark Fisher

??? I think you are confusing zOhorna with someone else. he cannot skate, doesn’t use his size and has no slap shot and an average wrist shot. But OK he’s your guy, so good luck to that.

Kris
Kris
24 days ago
Reply to  Mark Fisher

So first of all, it’s zOhorna. And second of all the guys a slow, out of shape bum. If you are banking on zOhorna to lead us to the promise land, we are doomed. There is a reason he is pushing 26 years old and cannot stick. If he wasn’t 6’7″, no one would care and he wouldn’t be here.

Ryan
Ryan
24 days ago
Reply to  Mark Fisher

There’s nothing in WBS. We need to stop with this

Nathan Schneider
Nathan Schneider
26 days ago

IMO, defense should be:

Dumo, Letang
Rutta, Petry
POJ, Ruhwedel
7th Friedman

Im thinking this way you get a defensive minded D with Petry and a solid D with POJ while he adjusts to full time NHL. Friedman can slot in either side when injury strikes. Ty Smith can come up and down as needed (if needed).

I know Sully likes Left and Right pairs, but Rutta could be a good fit for Petry and you could get rid of Petterson for $4M in savings.

Knobman
Knobman
25 days ago

Was thinking the same thing.

Kris
Kris
24 days ago

It works IF, (big if) they can move helmet boy in a salary dump.

Joe Cursi
Joe Cursi
25 days ago

Rust will be with Geno! Rackell with Syd!

Dominick
Dominick
25 days ago

I didn’t even read the rest of the article, you lost me when you said a third round pick “should be” better than a fourth round pick. Idk when picking in the third put you at a disadvantage in the fourth, but hey, I’m not a GM or an internet writer, that’s not for me to figure out

Robert Shoemaker
Robert Shoemaker
25 days ago
Reply to  Dominick

Picks can be tricky. 1st rounders can be busts and some 7th rounders are hidden gems. Drafts are like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get

Lars Nelson
Lars Nelson
25 days ago
Reply to  Dominick

I think that Dan meant that a third-round pick from a team that isn’t making the playoffs is much better than a fourth-round pick of the Stanley Cup Champion.

Kris
Kris
24 days ago

Poehling plays over O’Connor or Archie. And I know how great Sid with Jake and Rusty are, but remember when Sid had the Core Surgery and so Guentzel and Rust played with Geno and they were like… fire! And remember when Sid returned but Jake broke his collarbone and so the newly acquired Zucker played pretty well with Sid? And Remember when Rakell played like 3 minutes with Sid and they produced like 25 goals? So why cannot we not try Zucker – Crosby- Rakell and Jake – Geno – Rusty. As far as the defense, it we cannot find… Read more »

Ryan
Ryan
24 days ago

If hextall is “done” with the lines…then he fell asleep on the switch.

Join PHN Extra!

Join PHN+ today for exclusive content from Dan, Dave and Shelly plus a completely Google ad-free experience.

PHN+

Or enter your email below to sign-up for our mailing list.

Thank you!

Something went wrong.

No thanks. I don't want.