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Trade Talk: Penguins Should be Shopping, Leafs Available D

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Pittsburgh Penguins, NHL trade, Justin Holl, Brian Boyle

After the Pittsburgh Penguins get through their little COVID stream of bad news, their blue line will be healthy, at least for a little while. The insidious injury bug is never far away from these Penguins and the black cloud of bad luck hangs over them like a cloud of dust around Pig-Pen. Given the internally available options, it appearas the NHL trade market represents the best chance for the Penguins to solidify themselves for whatever comes next.

Marcus Pettersson and Chad Ruhwedel could be activated by Tuesday or Wedneday, because they went into protocol on Oct. 31 on Nov. 1. Howevrer, Brian Dumoulin will be out for another week so the pairings will remain jumbled.

Because of the bad luck, the Penguins will likely need more depth defensemen over the next 72 games and, if they’re fortunate enough, in the club’s 16th straight playoff appearance.

After training camp and a continuation over the past couple of games, it appears P.O. Joseph is not yet ready, and there are real questions if any permutation of Juuso Riikola will reach NHL regular status.The defenseman has played just 23 minutes over the past two games, which forced top-pair d-man Kris Letang to increase his already full workload.

The Penguins defense was already paper-thin before injuries and illness hit.

Depth Defensemen to Target on NHL Trade Market

Justin Holl, 29, Toronto, $2 million

Nick Kypreos of Sportsnet reported the Toronto Maple Leafs put a defenseman on the NHL trade block who could be right up the Pittsburgh Penguins alley.

Holl, 29, is an affordable minutes eater with a right-handed shot. He won’t light up the scoreboard and isn’t a hammer, but he is physical, and brings size. At 6-foot-4, 210 pounds, Holl can clear a path near the net and block shots, which the Penguins lack even with a healthy roster.

His $2 million AAV carries one season beyond this one and is affordable for a third-pairing defenseman. The Penguins might have to get a little bit creative down the road to add his salary, but Holl would be an immediate upgrade.

He’s currently playing more than 20 minutes per game with the Maple Leafs, but they’re trying to clear space for Timothy Liljegren. Holl has been a healthy scratch in recent games in favor of Liljegren.

There are conflicting NHL trade rumors on Holl. TSN’s Daren Dreger says a team will have to overpay for Holl. James Mirtle of the Athletic said a team told him the price wasn’t too high. Your call who to believe.

If the price tag on Holl is that of a top-four defenseman the Pittsburgh Penguins can keep shopping. But it shouldn’t be–players in the pressbox don’t command full value. There isn’t a market value for third-pair defensemen, past deals are over the place from NHL players to high draft picks. So, gauging his NHL trade value is tough.

The Maple Leafs put two defensemen on the NHL trade block. The other is LHD Travis Dermott, but he’s a lefty and not a threat to crack the Penguins top-six, long term.

An interesting Penguins trade chip who could interest Toronto (as one of multiple assets headed that way):goalie Louis Domingue. Penguins prospect goalie Filip Lindberg was the AHL goalie of the month in October, and Toronto is currently using Joseph Woll, who routinely ranks at the bottom of the AHL in save percentage, as their backup for the next four weeks while Petr Mrazek deals with anothe injury.

Hextall signed Domingue as NHL depth and he had a strong training camp. In the preseason, Domingue was the Penguins best player in a win over most of the Buffalo Sabres NHL roster. Toronto could use a goalie with NHL experience and a hunger to be there, unless they want to run Jack Campbell out there every game for the next month or more.

Mark Pysyk, 29, Buffalo, $900,000

Pysyk is unlikely to be available in the immediate but is worth watching.

The 29-year-old righty is an affordable option that is a step above Chad Ruhwedel and makes less than Juuso Riikola. After four seasons with the Florida Panthers, Pysyk skated 36-games with the Dallas Stars last season and signed with Buffalo this season.

He has just one assist, but he’s a standard third-pairing player who could even thrive in the Penguins system.

Currently, Pysyk is playing second-pair in Buffalo so he may not be so easy to pluck off the Niagara, but the Sabres will soon come back to earth and Buffalo would be smart to recoup assets for its rental players, like Pysyk.

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Frank
Frank
28 days ago

Every time I see a story about player movement and what the Penguins should be considering it just magnifies how wide the gap is between Rutherford and Hextall. There is not even the remotest chance that Rutherford would watch Joseph/Riccola/Friedman make up half of his defense. I appreciate that all three are there circumstantially But of the three players currently out only one is a solid addition . .. one is “OK” and the third is 7th or 8th on a depth chart. I am still shocked that the team is competitive much less accumulating points. I think GMJR had… Read more »

Ethan Kelley
28 days ago
Reply to  Frank

Who you gonna try to sneak thru waivers when/if time comes with most bodies back on blueline? Only Joseph gets free ride to WB. Then you might lose a player plus whatever you have to trade to Toronto for Holl which just smells too much like expansion fiasco all over again. Hextall seems too conservative to get burned twice by Leafs. So unless you can get Holl for a bottle of Ketchup, not gonna happen. Now that I said that….cue the trade!

Justin
Justin
27 days ago
Reply to  Ethan Kelley

I’m almost positive that Rikola is now waiver exempt because they put him on waivers and he cleared following preseason. They could also send down a forward to make up for the roster spot it doesn’t have to just be a Dman.

Mark Fisher
Mark Fisher (@the-scrivener)
28 days ago

Play Riikola. This team IS NOT a SC contender, at best a fringe playoff contender. For God’s sake, let the guy play for a month straight and then make a decision. Good skater, good shot, grit. Play Riikola!!!

Eric
Eric
27 days ago
Reply to  Mark Fisher

Do you really think they watch him in practice?

Lars Nelson
Lars Nelson
27 days ago
Reply to  Mark Fisher

He has gotten such a raw deal in Pittsburgh. I am not saying he is great, but he could be a steady defenseman, if he got a chance to play more than a few games a year. He’s played 3 games with an assist and a +1. I guess they see him as a guy that is an offensive defenseman that isn’t quite good enough at the pro level and he doesn’t bring enough as a PK shot blocker/clearing the net guy on the 3rd pair.

Uros
Uros
28 days ago

Let’s be clear about this. Our defense showed up in the beginning until injuries started to pile up. We’re just one short and I tend to think Riikola deserves a chance on the third pairing, once everyone is healthy, over Friedman and Ruhwedel. Friedman is younger, but is he better? And talk about spending a lifetime in the minors. Chad has been there for a long time. We’ve seen what he can do, we know what he can do. Same goes for Holl who’s a fringe player at best and had accidentally slipped into the lineup. And how long has… Read more »

celilo
27 days ago

“The defenseman has played just 23 minutes over the past two games, which forced top-pair d-man Kris Letang to increase his already full workload”. Wrong, the coaching staff failing to play Rikola for more than 23 minutes led to Kris Letang’s overuse. They had a choice and they made the wrong one. That doesn’t mean that Rikola is the greatest hockey player, it just means that you have to work with what you have. And, while Rikola has had limited playing time, he has never had a minus season with the penguins. He’s currently +1. Marino is -3, Mathison is… Read more »

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[…] Pittsburgh: The Penguins need blueline help, so they could be looking towards Toronto. […]

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[…] Dan Kingerski of PGH Hockey Now reports Holl is just what the Pittsburgh Penguins need. He can clear a path near the net and block shots, which the Penguins lack even with a healthy roster. […]

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[…] the Pittsburgh Penguins could become a trade partner. Pittsburgh Hockey Now’s Dan Kingerski suggested Holl would be a good fit on a Penguins blueline depleted by injuries and COVID-19 this […]

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[…] the Pittsburgh Penguins could become a trade partner. Pittsburgh Hockey Now’s Dan Kingerski suggested Holl would be a good fit on a Penguins blueline depleted by injuries and COVID-19 this […]

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[…] the Pittsburgh Penguins could become a trade partner. Pittsburgh Hockey Now’s Dan Kingerski suggested Holl would be a good fit on a Penguins blueline depleted by injuries and COVID-19 this […]

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[…] the Pittsburgh Penguins could become a trade partner. Pittsburgh Hockey Now’s Dan Kingerski suggested Holl would be a good fit on a Penguins blueline depleted by injuries and COVID-19 this […]

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[…] the Pittsburgh Penguins could become a trade partner. Pittsburgh Hockey Now’s Dan Kingerski suggested Holl would be a good fit on a Penguins blueline depleted by injuries and COVID-19 this […]

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[…] the Pittsburgh Penguins can become a trading partner. Pittsburgh hockey is now Dan Gingersky It is suggested that Hall will be a perfect fit for the Penguins blue line that has been exhausted […]

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