Connect with us

Penguins

7 Days to NHL Trade Deadline; Sullivan’s Changes Open Door for Hextall

Published

on

NHL Trade, Pittsburgh Penguins John Marino

For all of the criticism of Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan amongst the Penguins fanbase regarding his reliance on trusted players, Sullivan laid waste to that stubborn critique over the weekend and it opened the door for Penguins GM Ron Hextall as the NHL trade deadline approaches in seven days.

Through Friday and Sunday, Sullivan put over $7 million in the press box. Probably not to please fans, but Sullivan also put goat (not GOAT), Dominik Simon in the press box, in favor of WBS Penguins call-ups Valtteri Puustinen and Radim Zohorna.

The Penguins won both games as Kasperi Kapanen was a scratch for the Penguins 5-2 win over the Vegas Golden Knights on Friday and Marcus Pettersson drew the short straw in favor of scrappy Mark Friedman in the significant Penguins 4-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday.

Sullivan effectively scratched a top-six winger and top-four defenseman.

“We have seven defensemen here and we can only put six in the lineup. I thought (Friedman) played a couple of really solid games and was deserving of staying in the lineup,” Sullivan explained. “And so there’s a healthy competition among our group and all the positions are in that position. In particular, I thought (Friedman) deserved to play based on performance. So these are difficult decisions. They’re not easy. You know, Marcus has played a lot of good hockey for us as well. We’ll make decisions game to game and we’ll try to put the best six in the lineup.”

Friedman drew two first-period penalties. The Penguins didn’t score, but those were two more plusses in Friedman’s favor.

Neither Puustinen nor Zohorna had breakout games beside Jeff Carter, but their lack of absenteeism upgraded the line.

Sullivan’s shakeup didn’t end there as he kept defenseman Mike Matheson with top-pairing defenseman Kris Letang and shuffled Brian Dumoulin from his four-year running perch beside Letang to the second pairing with John Marino.

Tell me again that Sullivan won’t make changes or play young players? I digress.

Penguins, NHL Trade Deadline:

At this time of year, it’s natural to wonder if the NHL trade deadline bearing down on the Pittsburgh Penguins created additional motivation. Did Sullivan keep Friedman in the lineup not just because his game is quicker than Pettersson’s but also gauge the blue line without Pettersson?

Are they auditioning the WBS players to see if they can handle big games in the absence of Kapanen?

Perhaps showcasing them?

The surprising changes both added to the Penguins’ performance and opened doors for GM Ron Hextall.

Based on PHN reporting and Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, we know the Penguins had their director of pro scouting and a pro scout at the Montreal Canadiens vs. Seattle Kraken on Saturday night. And the Vancouver Canucks want a defenseman in his mid-20s.

Furthering NHL trade rumors, Friedman circled John Marino but said the two sides did not find common ground in discussions.

When Hextall spoke on Friday morning, he discussed adding a forward, likely a middle-six winger who could contribute more consistent offense. The Penguins got tallies from Brian Boyle and Danton Heinen, but the team needs to improve its secondary scoring.

A little help getting out of their own zone against the suffocating Carolina puck pressure wouldn’t hurt, either.

The Pittsburgh Penguins performance over the past two games also opens the door for Hextall to largely stand pat at the NHL trade deadline. They may not be Stanley Cup favorites as constituted, but if prices and the Penguins’ needs don’t line up, there are more comfortable options today than there were a week ago.

Just remember to avoid the anonymous trade rumor Twitter accounts.

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.

18 Comments
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
18 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Kris
Kris
2 months ago

Marino and Kapanen to Vancouver for JT Miller.

james e reuss
james e reuss
2 months ago
Reply to  Kris

Think you misspelled Connor Garland

Fredrick
Fredrick
2 months ago
Reply to  Kris

Miller is the only player from Vancouver that I would consider the thought of trading Marino. The question becomes who would replace him on the 2nd pairing? If we did this, then turned around and traded for Petry. I would be ok with Miller, as long as another deal for a 2nd pairing RHD.

Ethan
Ethan
2 months ago
Reply to  Fredrick

You said it. Otherwise moving someone on right side doesn’t make much sense. Needs to be a Left sider as that is where the surplus is. Thus the Pettersen talk.

Paul
Paul
2 months ago
Reply to  Kris

You meat Brock Boesser, right?

Jason.C
Jason.C
2 months ago

I would trade Marino if the price is right. Hextall will not stand pat they know the need a middle 6 forward and defense of depth player. There slogan is make every moment count they will do something for the deadline otherwise it’s a wasted opportunity because as constructed there not deep enough to get to the cup let alone win the cup. Come on Dan

Jay95
Jay95
2 months ago
Reply to  Jason.C

The issue is that Marino is a top 4 RHD man with upside and contact control. If we trade him it has to bring back a top 6 forward, not just any middle 6 guy. And, we’d then have to find a replacement such as Petry, Miller (in Buffalo, etc.

I’m thinking it’s most likely that Peterson is who they move for that middle of 6 guy.

Katz
Katz
2 months ago

Seems like something changed with Sullivan … for the better. First sitting Simon and bringing up Puustanen Sitting Kapanen and playing Zahorna. Sitting Pettersson playing Friedman.. Was there a conversation with Hextall and or Burke? Or has Sullivan self realized? Is it too much to sniff around and find out? Sullyitus seems to have been treated. I don’t know if Simon sitting will remain but it portends a ” Back to the Future” Sullivan. Size matters, and Boyle has it and a maturity that calms settles and brings some confidence . Wonderful get by Hextall, low risk high reward. Since… Read more »

Frank
Frank
2 months ago

No quarrel with that observation Dan. But I am wondering what is more important for the team. Is it moving a player and trying to get something that might help now . .. or is it moving a player to create Cap space and hoping the return helps? All the discussion around Miller strikes me as more wishful thinking than possibility. Vancouver is still very much in a playoff race. Their chances are not enhanced by adding Kapanen and Marino/Pettersson and losing Miller. If you have watched Miller play you would see the chances of making Kaspari part of some… Read more »

DaGama
DaGama
2 months ago

Whomever GMRH obtains, here’s hoping HCMS is onboard with properly integrating the player(s). The lack of coordination between GM and head coach in the later Rutherford seasons was troubling.

moe
moe
2 months ago
Reply to  DaGama

Exactly. MS did not cooperate with JR, hence the quick exits

Crazyhorse87
Crazyhorse87
2 months ago

This is the best way to get the best out of your players, make them fight for their jobs, simple as that.

paco
paco
2 months ago

dan, we as readers, are often so critical of your reporting but I have to say how much I appreciate the hard work you put into it – timely reports keeping us up to date, your valuable insight, and not hesitating to fire back at our , at times, unfair and unfounded comments. I mean, please, correcting your spelling!? we can and should do better than that. I am sure we don’t have a clue as to what it takes for you to post what you post – and often under time constraints. so thank you Dan and I will… Read more »

Katz
Katz
2 months ago

“Sullivan’s Changes Open Door for Hextall”

Was there a catalyst for the changes other than Sullivan’s own decision making? Was there a meeting ? Will you ask? Seems relevant . We can’t ask?

Last edited 2 months ago by Katz
tammy
tammy
2 months ago

ever think pairing Marino with Dumolin is just in cast Kris leaves? Marino has the potential to be as good as Letang. same offensive/defense mindset.

just a thought

Last edited 2 months ago by tammy
Paul
Paul
2 months ago

It’s too late in the season to make the necessary changes. This team has multiple fatal flaws. Maybe HexBurke will do their jobs and address them this summer.

Last edited 2 months ago by Paul
Robert Shoemaker
Robert Shoemaker
2 months ago
Reply to  Paul

Trade deadline acquisitions rarely help the penguins in my opinion. A few have, but most new players picked up in the off season have the most impact. I keep saying that this team has the potential to look completely different next season. More than half are ufa or rfa. So one way or another change is coming

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.