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NHL Trade Rumors

Updated Penguins Trade Block; Is DeSmith Odd-Man Out?



Pittsburgh Penguins, Casey DeSmith

Eight men enter, but the Pittsburgh Penguins probably don’t need all of them. This offseason, the Penguins have stockpiled goaltenders like a doomsday prepper amassing powdered foods, and if it’s not over-preparedness, it could be the sign of a coming Penguins trade.

The NHL trade chatter surrounding the Penguins and San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson isn’t exactly waning.

Penguins president of operations Kyle Dubas has corrected the Penguins’ previous lack of goaltending dept that perhaps cost them the 2022 Round One series against the Rangers and limited coach Mike Sullivan’s options when starting goalie Tristan Jarry struggled in their 2021 Round One series against the Islanders.

However, Dubas has overloaded the depth chart.

After the WBS Penguins added Garret Sparks this week, the organization has eight goaltenders and five with NHL experience. Still, the organization has only three nets, including the ECHL’s Wheeling Nailers.

2020 Penguins second-round pick and top goalie prospect Joel Blomqvist has also committed to moving to North America for the coming season.

The only things that seem certain are the top and bottom of the depth chart. Jarry signed a five-year, $26.875 million deal on July 1 and is the unquestioned No. 1 goalie.

The Penguins also have ECHL goalies, who have some promise, Taylor Gauthier and Tommy Nappier at the bottom.

Penguins backup Casey DeSmith, with newly signed Alex Nedeljkovic and Magnus Hellberg, are on NHL deals. Sparks is on an AHL deal, and Blomqvist is on his entry-level deal but will need consistent ice time to develop.

That’s eight netminders.

At least one league source feels something has to give, “They have to make a deal, right,” one rhetorically asked.

Of course, Dubas has reason to pack the depth chart. His Toronto Maple Leafs used five goalies in 2021-22 and 2021-22. Last season, the Vegas Golden Knights needed five goalies and rode fourth-stringer Adin Hill to the Stanley Cup championship.

Even with five NHL-experienced goalies, the Penguins can still shed one and maintain a level of depth with Blomqvist they haven’t ever had before.

Some sources expect DeSmith to be the odd man out, not Nedeljkovic who makes $300,000 less.

Last season, DeSmith again started slow but had a solid second half of the season. Overall, DeSmith was 15-16-4 with a .905 save percentage. He was especially good last February with a 7-4-2 record during Jarry’s injury absence, including a .915 save percentage.

According to, DeSmith’s had a .4 goals saved-above rating and a perfectly average 100 goals-against rating.

After a .932 save percentage in 23 games with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2020-21 and finishing third in Calder Trophy voting, Nedeljkovic suffered through two sub-par seasons in Detroit, including being demoted to the AHL for most of last season. He made only 15 NHL appearances last season.

For what it’s worth, the San Jose Sharks do not have much depth or quality goaltending. Kaapo Kahkonen, who had an .883 save percentage in 37 games last season, and Mackenzie Blackwood, who had an .893 save percentage in 22 games with New Jersey, are their only NHL goalies.

The Penguins remain about $2.3 million over the salary cap. Dubas may also be forced into some hard choices if he declines to use the second buyout window, which begins three days after signing Drew O’Connor or his arbitration award.

Of course, if the Erik Karlsson trade happens, some unexpected names could be on the move, but that’s a unique situation.

Updated Penguins Trade Block:

Drew O’Connor

The Penguins forward had an eye-opening performance at the 2023 World Championships. The 25-year-old potential power forward’s elevated performance in the season’s final month, combined with his pending arbitration case, means he may have a little more value than the average 11-point winger.

Moving O’Connor wouldn’t reduce the current cap overage, but he could be a nice accompaniment with a veteran facilitating a Penguins trade to move out enough salary.

Bryan Rust

There are teams that need a player with the heart, speed, and skills of Rust, and the Penguins are one of them. However, Rust also makes $5 million, and the effects of age will not be kind to his game, and a few signs may have emerged last season.

Rust has a no-movement clause through 2024-25, so he can block any Penguins trade.

Jan Rutta

The Penguins signed Rutta last summer to add some net-clearing presence on the penalty kill. He played only 56 games and wasn’t much of a factor last season. He would have some value on the NHL trade block, and the Penguins still have Chad Ruhwedel and Mark Friedman under contract. That pair doesn’t make Rutta expendable, but it does mean the Penguins could get by if forced to move him.

Jeff Petry

Dubas called Petry a “major part” of the team for the coming season. He’s probably in play only in the Erik Karlsson sweepstake, but his $6.25 million salary with only 31 points last season looms large for a cap-strapped team.