The Pittsburgh Penguins snagged 36-year-old, two-time Stanley Cup winner Jeff Carter. It wasn’t the splashiest or biggest move on deadline day but Penguins GM Ron Hextall was pleased. The other playoff contenders in the East Divison did go big. The Penguins East Division rivals went big from a Hart Trophy winner to a blockbuster deal and consistent 25-goal scorers.
So, where do the Penguins fit?
First, the Penguins’ 15th straight NHL playoffs appearance is all but guaranteed. Their magic points number is down to 19 (18, if they’re ahead on the regulation wins category). With 15 games remaining, the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers have to make up at least 10 points, perhaps 12 based on one game in hand.
If the Penguins merely won seven of their final 14 games, their pursuers need to win 13 of their final 15. So, rest assured the Penguins are going to the big dance.
But how will the Penguins fare when they arrive?
Hextall decided to keep the Penguins together. He did not seek a blockbuster or attempt to change the lineup.
“The word chemistry is a big part of all this. The chemistry that this group has right now, and has had the entire year, is special,” Hextall said. “So when we started thinking–OK, can we add a really good player? We weren’t going to add a depth player, so to speak. If we were going to add a player and take assets away, we were going to add a player that we felt could make an impact.”
And so the Penguins added just one piece, with whom Hextall is familiar from his years as the assistant general manager in LA.