It doesn’t take much to start a brush fire of expectation and hope. A little spark is all it takes, especially when a player such as Brandon Saad is from Pittsburgh and has talent. He must come home to the Pittsburgh Penguins. There’s no place like Pittsburgh. There’s no place like Pittsburgh. But if you click your heels three times, it’s still a business and the NHL rumor mill is often just that.
Sportsnet Elliotte Friedman gave some credence to the possibility that the Penguins and Pittsburgh native Saad could finally come together, 10 years after the Penguins passed on Saad with the 23rd overall pick in the 2011 NHL Draft. That year, the Penguins opted for Joe Morrow despite the thunderous cry from those paying attention who knew the Pine Richland kid was waiting by his phone.
Friedman predicted Saad to the Penguins–he didn’t report it–he predicted the Penguins as one of four teams on his 31 Thoughts blog on Sunday night. Because of Friedman’s clout and our respect for him, that means we can’t slam the door shut but don’t get your hopes up.
Multiple sources dismissed or downplayed it on Monday.
Saad didn’t fall to the Penguins in the 2011 second round (Scott Harrington got the Penguins’ phone call), and it’s highly unlikely he falls to the Pittsburgh Penguins now. At this point, I feel like I need to offer an apology for being the bearer of bad news. We’re well aware some blogs have run with the possibility, some published proposals and even salary figures as excited readers have sent them to us hoping to confirm.
First, players and teams cannot negotiate until Wednesday. Multiple sources related to this and other stories across the National Hockey Now network reiterated that to us on Monday.
Second, one well-placed source, who requested to remain off the record, severely dismissed the possibility of the Penguins signing Saad.
The source conceded the Penguins might check in to feel out the market. They may call Saad on Wednesday, but no one is expecting an offer or serious discussions.
The source flatly said if Saad isn’t from Pittsburgh, this conversation never happens.
Both the Penguins and Saad have every reason for a public bromance to drive his price up–because based on those multiple sources, the Penguins are not serious players. If the Penguins can make their competition pay more, that’s a small win for the team, too. So, we take the denials at full face value.
Pittsburgh Penguins Salary Cap
One of the people we talked to went directly to the Penguins salary cap space. According to PuckPedia.com, it’s around $7.4 million, assuming a small cushion for in-season call-ups. Perhaps Evgeni Malkin is placed on LTIR before the season, perhaps not. That’s up in the air, but Penguins GM Ron Hextall can’t spend that money just yet.
So, the Penguins have $7.4 million for a right-side defenseman and three bottom-six forwards, preferably at least one with some offensive chops to replace Jared McCann.
And a new contract for Zach Aston-Reese.
And upgrades for a lineup that fell short in the postseason.
Saad, 28, carried a $6 million AAV last season. He’s scored 20 or more goals in five of the last seven seasons and had a healthy 15 markers in 44 games last season.
Fast-forwarding to the climactic fight scene, Saad won’t come cheap.
The Penguins could become players, but they would also need to move significant salary. You’ve seen how difficult trades involving high-salaried players have been. You’ve seen Hextall’s cautious approach.
Can you envision Hextall spending 2022 high draft picks to move Jason Zucker or Marcus Pettersson to sign Brandon Saad?
It’s Saad but true. Based on multiple sources, don’t expect Saad to the Penguins.