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Penguins Mock Trades: Finding Good Fits For Jake Guentzel



Pittsburgh Penguins, NHL trade rumors, Jacob Trouba

The strong possibility, if not stark reality, that the Pittsburgh Penguins will indeed strip away assets in order to rebuild or retool at the NHL trade deadline became inescapable this week. Sure, some have clamored for it, but the team was pushing hard for a playoff spot, and future-leaning Penguins trades were not happening during a playoff push.

That could be changing. Barring a strong Penguins run before the March 8 NHL trade deadline, there is now a very real possibility of trading one or more veterans, starting with Jake Guentzel.

The pros and cons of trading Guentzel are changing rapidly. His injury only makes it more likely the Penguins will slip further back in the standings, bidding adieu to a playoff spot.

President of hockey operations/GM Kyle Dubas has a choice to re-sign Guentzel, who will be 30 next season, at an average annual value most likely above $8 million, or recoup assets.

If there’s no playoff run and no new contract, Dubas must get a top return.

Guentzel is eligible to come off the long-term injured list on March 10, two days after the deadline. Trading players on LTIR is a little bit tricky, though not unprecedented. Getting a full return might be the trickiest part.

And since this is clearly a mock exercise and not to be confused with sourced reporting, it seems there are more teams who could use a real boost on the left side.

One thing to consider is that the Penguins can hold back some of Guentzel’s salary ($6 million cap hit) to facilitate a deal, thus increasing their return from the right team.

Mock Penguins Trades

Jake Guentzel Potentials: Vegas Golden Knights, Edmonton Oilers, LA Kings.

Price: First-round pick, top prospect. More?

Edmonton Oilers

Guentzel could remake any team’s top six. Edmonton has the most incentive because Connor McDavid badly needs a Stanley Cup to complete his application as one of the best players ever. Guentzel would allow Edmonton to roll two legitimate lines, separating McDavid and Leon Draisaitl and go toe-to-toe with the deep defending Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights.

Edmonton’s top prospect Philip Broberg is thought to be off-limits in most deals, but perhaps for Guentzel, that changes. Based on the necessary salary structure of the deal and the potential for the acquired first-round pick to become the 32nd overall, anything less than Broberg should be an immediate decline for Dubas.

Broberg, a 22-year-old Swedish defenseman, has no points in 10 NHL games this season. He is not a big point producer but an all-around defenseman with good hockey sense. Edmonton would need to clear commensurate salary to acquire Guentzel, and that’s where it gets tricky. Would the Oil part with Ryan Nugent Hopkins? Fat chance. So, some combination of players like Cody Ceci, Mattias Janmark, or Ryan McCleod are the only ways it gets done, plus, of course, the first-rounder and Broberg.

LA Kings

LA is a dark horse here. They have scored only 140 goals this season, and after a disastrous 14-game run that got coach Todd McClellan fired, LA remains in a playoff spot. The right side of LA’s lineup is solid and three deep. Kevin Fiala, Adrian Kempe, and Viktor Arvidsson offset a weak left side as LA’s middle six LWs are Alex Lafierre and Trevor Moore. That twosome could be significantly improved by adding Guentzel to the mix.

LA needs a bit of help to get past the Vegas Golden Knights and Edmonton. Guentzel would make them a much tougher out.

Former second-overall pick Quinton Byfield is a natural center, but playing top line LW. Acquiring Guentzel would give LA more lineup flexibility and a deeper lineup.

Perhaps the Penguins could snag LA’s second-line center Philip Danault in the deal; probably not, but it’s worth a shot.

LA has a first-round pick, and the sneaky Penguins’ benefit here is LA is not a favorite to win a few rounds in the playoffs, meaning the Penguins could find a better first-rounder with LA than Edmonton. To balance the cap hit, perhaps Dubas likes one of the RWs, too.

Vegas Golden Knights

The champs are racked by injuries and were already in need of top-six scoring before the waitlist for the trainer’s table filled up. The thought of Jack Eichel and Guentzel could surely make Vegas GM Kelly McCrimmon drool just a little.

LW Michael Amadio has resurrected his career in the desert, but he’s certainly not a high-scoring winger. Ivan Barbashev is currently the top LW, and he has 31 points, including 13 goals in 51 games.

Yeah, Guentzel could significantly upgrade the Golden Knights’ scoring punch.

Guentzel could upgrade the VGK lineup significantly, AND McCrimmon would deny Edmonton their best option. Dubas could create a bidding war between these two.

Would the Penguins accept less to include Reilly Smith and clear the cap hit? Probably not, but I knew you’d suggest it. Vegas is dollar-in, dollar-out at the NHL trade deadline, so perhaps Dubas might deliver Sidney Crosby a little consolation prize by acquiring 22-year-old LW Brendan Brisson (the son of Pat Brisson, Crosby’s friend and agent), a first-rounder and offsetting salary.

Brisson scored his first NHL goal against the Penguins on Jan. 20. He has three points (1-2-3) in seven NHL games this season.

Vegas does not have a great prospect pool, and Brisson is a little bit like Guentzel because he isn’t the best skater but uses hockey smarts to get the job done.

Teams We Considered:

Detroit Red Wings. Will executive vice president/GM Steve Yzerman mortgage any of his future to solidify a playoff run or results this season? We don’t think so.

Boston Bruins: They don’t have a 2024 first-rounder, and they have the 30th-ranked prospect pool.

Colorado Avalanche: Some national sites have included the Avalanche as contenders for Guentzel, but their need for a second-line center should supersede the need for Guentzel, in our opinion.