It didn’t hit the NHL trade rumors, nor did we think it possible, but did the Pittsburgh Penguins call the Columbus Blue Jackets about defenseman Seth Jones?
Upon closer examination, it does make sense that Penguins GM Ron Hextall chatted up Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen. Jones is in the prime of his career. He’s 26-years-old, a bonafide top-shelf blueliner, and a righty, too. He would be the heir-apparent to Kris Letang and could simultaneously extend Letang’s career by eating some of the hard minutes Letang gobbles up on a nightly basis.
Jones has one year left on his six-year deal with a $5.4 million AAV, and the Penguins need a top-four RHD.
Kekalainen told the Athletic’s Aaron Portzline that he’s “heard from just about every GM in the league.”
TSN’s Pierre LeBrun also reported interest in Jones as “off the charts.”
So, did the Penguins call? Probably. However, for the uninitiated, general managers don’t lead a conversation with a firm offer. So, if Hextall called, he unlikely floated names for Jones unless the call(s) progressed to discussing specifics.
The Penguins do have NHL players to offer, though Kekalainen’s asking price isn’t yet known. Jones recently told Columbus that he intended to hit the NHL free-agent market following next season, which pushed his name onto the NHL trade market.
If Columbus decides to ask for NHL players in return, rather than high picks and ready prospects, the Penguins could become players. It suddenly doesn’t seem too far outside the realm of possibility, especially if the new front office team of Hextall and President of Hockey Operations Brian Burke concentrate on rebuilding from the back-end out (like former GM Craig Patrick did beginning in 2001 with Brooks Orpik, then in 2002 with Ryan “Pink” Whitney. In 2003, Patrick drafted goalie Marc-Andre Fleury).
Other reports indicate most teams have backed away from Jones unless they can sign him to a contract. So, Jones holds the ace on the table, as so few teams will pay a ransom for a d-man on a one-year deal. He will have some say in the situation based on his willingness to engage in contract talks with a (potential) new team; it would essentially be a sign-and-trade, or Columbus would have to permit an inquiring team to chat with Jones’s agent Pat Brisson on a new deal.
Don’t spend much time worrying about the possibility of a Pittsburgh Penguins trade for Jones, but don’t entirely lock the door, either.
Frederick Andersen, Payday
There are several ways to interpret Daren Dreger’s report on TSN1050 radio in Toronto. Dreger said pending Toronto Maple Leafs free agent goalie Frederick Andersen wants about $5 million per season on his next contract.
Dreger on TSN1050 feels Frederick Andersen believes he's worth $5M AAV and perhaps a bump in salary. DD believes he'll hit the open market cause to even go to $5M AAV would be difficult for Toronto.
— NHL Watcher (@NHL_Watcher) July 5, 2021
Last month, a Pittsburgh Penguins source told PHN the Penguins would investigate an experienced backup goalie, perhaps a 1A situation with Tristan Jarry. The move would undoubtedly be a response to Jarry’s playoff struggle against the New York Islanders in Round One.
Frederick Andersen was the first name mentioned as the type of goalie with playoff experience the Penguins would examine.
However, a $5 million contract ask likely blows that completely out of the water. Jarry is in the second year of a three-year deal that carries a $3.5 million AAV. Count the cap-strapped Penguins as highly unlikely to pursue such a path which would require clearing significant cap space for a second goalie.
Nope. No way. Not happening. We have some lovely parting gifts backstage.
Andersen could be intentionally pricing himself out of the Toronto situation, and his tag may drop for another team. Still, his ask clearly indicates he wants to be a starting goalie…somewhere. That’s not the Penguins’ situation.
Like Jones, never say never, but it looks like the Andersen potential is also in the improbable category.