The Pittsburgh Penguins Trade Bait List
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The Pittsburgh Penguins Trade Bait List

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PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 10: Pittsburgh Penguins Right Wing Dominik Simon (12) forechecks during the second period in the NHL game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Arizona Coyotes on November 10, 2018, at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, PA. The Penguins shutout the Coyotes 4-0. (Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire)

The NHL trade deadline is just six days henceforth, and the Pittsburgh Penguins are fighting for their playoff lives. They find themselves ahead or behind the youthful, exuberant and slightly crazy Carolina Hurricanes who have struggled to score goals and with goaltending but have caught fire behind the unlikely netminder Petr Mrazek and recently acquired Nino Niederreiter.

Carolina has become a freight train of on-ice limbo contests, ride-the-bull dances and home plate celebrations to the ire of Don Cherry, who said they look like “jerks.” That should quell their enthusiasm, eh?

But the Penguins are also just a couple of points out of second place in the Metro Division. Welcome to NHL standings which look like the Ft. Pitt tunnel at 4:30 on Friday.

And so Penguins GM Jim Rutherford who wanted to get a good look at the team with Evgeni Malkin, Justin Schultz, Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann in the lineup is running out of time. Head coach Mike Sullivan is still working the combinations trying to find what he likes, though the third period Sunday against New York could be a good starting point.

If Rutherford feels the team needs more or wants to make additional changes, the end of his chance to do so is near. Whether that light at the end of the tunnel is the Penguins gelling or the Carolina train remains to be seen. Missing the playoffs would not be good for players or front office job security.

Penguins Trade Bait

4. Dominik Simon

More than a one person in the know have told us Simon is well regarded inside the Penguins, which like his speed, ability to play with the puck down low, and ability to create scoring chances (even if those don’t translate to point totals).

However, last June Pittsburgh Hockey Now was the first to report the Penguins offered Simon as part of a package to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for Max Domi.

This season, Simon has 21 points in 49 games. He was a healthy scratch Saturday but returned to the lineup, Sunday. Coaches shuffled Simon off the third line when the Penguins made sweeping changes to begin the third period.

The 24-year-old signed a two-year, $1.5 million deal over the summer so he is a cost-effective, speedy winger with some upside but the Penguins are currently well stocked.

3. Tanner Pearson

Pearson, 26, was acquired for Carl Hagelin in November as the first part of the Penguins team shakeup. Pearson has scored points in consecutive games just twice with the Penguins and has one point in his last 11 games. He served as a healthy scratch for both ends of the Penguins back-to-back home games last weekend.

Pearson notched 24 goals in 2016-17 and has a championship pedigree from his time with the LA Kings. However, this season has gone sideways. It isn’t hard to imagine a Western Conference team remembering a founding member of That 70’s Line with the LA Kings which propelled them to a Cup.

RedBeard's Pittsburgh

Pearson has two more seasons at $3.75 million remaining.

PHN believes the Penguins may have to add additional assets to move Pearson if they choose, however, other knowledgeable hockey people we spoke to do not believe the Penguins would need to part with additional assets.

If Rutherford feels the need or has the chance to add an impact player, Pearson probably has to be moved.

2. Juuso Riikola

Putting Riikola on the trade board has nothing to do with his recent scratches and everything to do with our belief that at least one team included his name in discussions during Rutherford’s push to move Derick Brassard.

Riikola, 24, is the quintessential late bloomer. He has speed, a bit of sandpaper in his game and nice puck moving skills. Riikola’s value is not hard to ascertain. When his ELC expires this summer, he’ll be a restricted free agent but still growing into the NHL game. The Penguins have a speedy third pairing defenseman who still has potential.

That’s a valuable commodity.

On the downside, he has just four points (2g, 2a) in 34 games. A young or rebuilding team like Ottawa, Chicago or Minnesota could value a player like Riikola and part with a “now” type asset.

And given the Penguins blue line depth, especially when Olli Maatta returns from his suspected shoulder injury the Penguins may find themselves able to afford more than they expected.

1. Tristan Jarry

Heaven help the Penguins if they deal Jarry for the riches which await but do not get an NHL capable goalie in return or a subsequent deal. The Penguins have only won only one of their five Stanley Cups without suffering a goalie injury (1992). Otherwise, the Penguins have needed at least two goalies. Three netminders started games in 2016. In 2017, three goalies also dressed as Matt Murray was injured.

For the Penguins to deal Jarry, they would need to replace the insurance policy which he represents.

In 29 AHL starts this season, Jarry has posted a .911 save percentage and 2.75 goals against average; not exactly world beater numbers.

PHN knows the goalie is frustrated by his lack of inclusion on an NHL roster but also understands the situation. The goalie market has been wildly inconsistent over the past several years and the Penguins may have a blue chipper or they may have a prospect which nets only a fair return. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Since Jarry is under contract for next season, the Penguins have little need to deal Jarry but the stars could align in which the Penguins get a difference maker in return. Anything short of an impact player and the Penguins can wait until the summer.

And a little look ahead–the Penguins may also be wise to wait until they discuss a new contract with Matt Murray this summer before dealing Jarry.

 

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Mike

    February 19, 2019 at 9:43 am

    Keep Pearson over Simon – Its a no brainer – Pearson is a solid 2-way winger with some
    size that the Pen’s so desperately need. Players like Simon are a dime a dozen. He’s
    spent most of his time on Crosby’s wing and has (7) goals. Move him for grit / toughness.

  2. Dean

    February 19, 2019 at 9:50 am

    Dan, always intrigued by your point of view. Thank you for being so active for those of us obsessed with the Pens.

    We agree on 3 and 4 as trade chips.

    Disagree with 2. We need more young, inexpensive, fast, puck moving defenders. Why give one away. I know Maatta is hurt, but he needs to be the one to go. Maatta just doesn’t have the foot speed to fit the new NHL. Because he is slow he has a hard time moving the puck out before he gets trapped by pressure.

    I think we agree with 1. Can’t move Jarry. We will need him before this is over this year and we will need him next year also. Can’t see us picking up another goalie that we can afford that could help any better then Jarry, that we can send up and down to the AHL. If anything we should consider trading DeSmith, he has proven to be an affordable, consistent number 2, who has no hopes of be a 1 or 1a goalie in the NHL.

    • Dan Kingerski

      February 19, 2019 at 12:53 pm

      Just because Riikola is on the bait list doesn’t mean the Penguins should trade him or are trying.

  3. Paul

    February 19, 2019 at 10:17 am

    I would throw out one more outside-the-box name if there was to be more of a blockbuster…Patric Hornqvist. He hasn’t done much 5v5 this year and isn’t even considered a top 6 winger by Sullivan. Then factor in his age and contract factored in + the logjam at RW + his obvious trade value… you could logically come up with a scenario to move him.

  4. Pingback: The Pittsburgh Penguins Trade Bait List - Pittsburgh Hockey Now - NHL Rumor Mill

  5. Frank

    February 19, 2019 at 11:29 am

    Barring Rutherford catching another GM under the influence of something I cannot see anyway he can make a deal that matters. Plus what is out there that would be consideredi measurably better than what they have on their current group of 12 forwards. I definitely like Pearson and Simon watching from the Press box. I am concerned that JR’s belief that this group is a Stanley Cup contender will lead to even further drains on draft picks and youth. So I am keeping my fingers crossed that no delusional deals are made to add to a team that is a middle of the pack group and not one player away from a center ice party in June. It should be noted that they are middle of the pack WITH Crosby/Malkin/Letang/Murray/and a few more. Anything beyond a competitive second round series will be a surprise. They are not exactly a lock to even make the post season. And a first round vs. Tampa is not the “good match-up” it many would like you to believe. I love the Pens but this group is too comfortable with underachieving.

  6. Matt Luda

    February 20, 2019 at 1:38 am

    Maatta should be Nos. 1 and 1a when he returns. Ruhwedel has as many goals as Maatta does in 55 games, for goshsakes. Four mill is way too much to pay for a slow d-man with limited offensive skills. Riikola could replace Maatta and do it a lot cheaper.

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