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PHN Blog: Bad Penguins Trade Ideas, Surprises & Stability

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pittsburgh penguins, nhl trade, jason zucker, marcus pettersson

The clock is ticking. The Pittsburgh Penguins’ regular season is only a day away. There are a few new hairstyles, a few new players who could or should make a difference, and a couple of players who no longer make sense to have on the NHL trade block.

Tee it up. Let it rip.

Pittsburgh Penguins one-timers

1. Surprise Players

Last October, my spidey sense was tingling, and I wrote the prophetic, “…Louis Domingue will play a role in the Penguins’ fate.” Sorry, I thought it would be in a good way, but I have a few hunches this season, too.

Watch Ryan Poehling. Pending Teddy Blueger’s health — he still has not been cleared for contact — Poehling will begin the season as the 13th forward, but watching him during training camp and the preseason, the Penguins’ system suits him. He is fast, has some size, and needs to get his career on track. He didn’t hesitate to take the puck to the net or play between the dots in the preseason. He showed fundamental playmaking skills and was one of the shots leaders.

Blueger is not untouchable on the NHL trade market, either. If the Penguins get into a crunch, Blueger has value.

Prediction: The Penguins will need — and get — Poehling’s best.

Jason Zucker. It is a contract year. He has a lot to prove. And the hockey gods can’t hate him that much, can they? A broken leg and a nagging core muscle injury in successive seasons are enough punishment for any transgression. Zucker is staring at a comparatively minuscule contract next summer if he has another bad year due to injuries or lack of production.

However, if he performs well, another payday is likely. This keyboard warrior is betting on Zucker.

2. Bad Penguins Trade Ideas

Zucker and Marcus Pettersson were oft-mentioned names in the NHL trade rumor mill throughout the offseason. The Pittsburgh Penguins almost certainly need to make a trade to create adequate salary-cap space, but GM Ron Hextall won’t dramatically weaken his team in the process.

Trade Marcus Pettersson? At least at this moment, the Penguins don’t have another long-term top-four defenseman to eat minutes alongside Jeff Petry. Perhaps P.O Joseph or Ty Smith could grow into the role, but right now, neither would be a good option.

Mark Friedman’s chance for that role seems to have expired.

Trade Jason Zucker? Then who would take Evgeni Malkin’s LW? Bryan Rust is on the right. Rickard Rakell is needed on Sidney Crosby’s line. The Penguins have five bonafide top-six skaters. Zucker is No. 6.

After Zucker, the only option would be to move Kasperi Kapanen up to the second-line RW and flip Rakell or Rust to the LW. Certainly, Rust and Rakell can play LW. Still, until Kapanen shows he can contribute at a level commensurate with his ability, the dropoff from a healthy Zucker to Kapanen is steep.

Such trades would save money and open opportunities but also diminish the Penguins.

3. Stability

Do not underestimate the value of keeping Sidney Crosby surrounded by “his” teammates. Everyone else has come and gone, but the trio of Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang now stands as the longest-running trio in North American sports. There is a comfort factor, but also an appreciation. This time, everyone had to choose to be together. The players had to choose contracts that (probably) paid a little less than the open market. The team had to choose to give extra years and signing bonuses, creating the dreaded 35+ contracts.

And now that the gang has a few more shots, the bet here is that understanding the finality of their careers and chances will add a little desperation to the motivation.

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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Ethan
1 month ago

Trades do not happen in a vacuum. Players coming back the other way can and should help fill any voids created (except contract ideally). I see no reason PO can’t become a similar player to MP with much more upside at a cheaper cost (for the moment anyway). So MP is not a bad trade. Zucker is never a bad trade either–just getting that contract off the books is a positive. And don’t tell me you can’t find a decent physical left wing for 2nd/3rd lines for less than 5.5 mill. For all that Hextall has done right–this is one… Read more »

Biggus Dickus
Biggus Dickus
1 month ago
Reply to  Ethan

Can not rely on POJ, the decision to keep him over Smith and Friedman will cost the Pens the cup… just watch

Last edited 1 month ago by Biggus Dickus
SD Pens Fan
SD Pens Fan
1 month ago
Reply to  Biggus Dickus

Except, the Penguins still have Smith & Friedman available to call up.

Donny D
Donny D
1 month ago
Reply to  Biggus Dickus

I do question your first name, but your surname is spot on. (yes I know it is a Holy Grail reference)

Biggus Dickus
Biggus Dickus
1 month ago
Reply to  Donny D

Life of Brian! Not the Grail

Vince Gori
Vince Gori
1 month ago
Reply to  Ethan

PO is no improvement over Pettersson, he’s as lanky and less physical. I just don’t see the love for him here.

Biggus Dickus
Biggus Dickus
1 month ago
Reply to  Vince Gori

Agreed, POJ is a major liability

Ethan
1 month ago
Reply to  Biggus Dickus

If by liability, you mean liable to underwhelm. Fine that is your opinion. But he is just as liable to succeed at this point. Not like MP is Pantheon bound. Which is my point and at least Dean seemed to understand. What is Joseph like 23? Give the kid a chance. If MP had been, or is traded, no one has to sneak thru waivers and money might be saved. Nuff said.

Jake
Jake
1 month ago
Reply to  Ethan

What do you hope is the return for pett, how much worth does he have he’s been mediocre at best. He’s a stay at home guy who’s not even as good as scuds was. We have no one else ATM to slot in and eat minutes like he’s gonna do. Poj, and Smith would be liabilities ATM out there in that role. Friedman and ruwhedel aren’t even qualified for a shot. We should accept what we have and see where we are come February, although I still firmly believe poj is out the door

Dean
Dean
1 month ago
Reply to  Vince Gori

Vince, did you read what Ethan wrote? I didn’t see any more “love” about PO than you.

Jake
Jake
1 month ago
Reply to  Ethan

We all hear what you are saying but the return on Petterson and Zuck isn’t gonna be what we are giving up. We have much more upside in keeping the pieces we have as opposed to farming out the future some more. No one is gonna give the pens a 2nd line wing for zuck or a 2nd pair d for mp.

Joe
Joe
1 month ago

I’d be OK with sliding Heinen up if necessary. He doesn’t have the greatest all around game but he does have some finishing ability.

Donny D
Donny D
1 month ago

I Think that the real value of Poehling would be to occasionally spell the other four centers to keep them fresh and injury free throughout the year. Particularly for Malkin and Carter. Dave wrote a great article about keeping older players minutes down, and that would be one way to keep Poehling fresh and limit the exposure of the older guys.

Cal
Cal
1 month ago

Here’s the unsaid thing about POJ. He is not that good.

Rob
Rob
1 month ago
Reply to  Cal

Others have said that too. I think they are giving him another shot because he was one of the best in the ahl last season. Its not a big deal to waive him if he doesn’t fit in the NHL but right now we have only seen him in a small sample size at the nhl level. That is why he is on the team.

Biggus Dickus
Biggus Dickus
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob

We’ve seen enough…. He is a weakling

Rob
Rob
1 month ago
Reply to  Biggus Dickus

Don’t think there are any pro hockey players that are weaklings. I think that what you mean is that you would prefer a heavier player with more aggression to their game on the 3rd pair. Me too, but these are the players they have.

William Maloni
William Maloni
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob

Let POJ play 20 games and see what he has.

Mark Fisher
Mark Fisher
1 month ago
Reply to  William Maloni

They don’t do that with the Pens. It’s jerk young players in and out of the lineup.

Rob
Rob
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark Fisher

If they don’t perform to expectations, yes they come out of the lineup. Joseph will have a relatively short leash given that Ruhwedel, Friedman, and Smith are also capable NHL defenders. The Penguins are not a rebuilding team, they are a competitive, contending team, and have no wiggle room to keep players in the lineup that aren’t doing the job.

James
James
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob

Yeah, I think you’re right about that. Some more established players get a little longer leash though. Knowing some of them are hot and cold streak type players. Usually they get demoted down the lineup and not out completely.
PO has nowhere to go but out if he falters.

James
James
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob

Yes, that is true, as well the penguins being forced to send Ty Smith down or risk losing Joseph to waivers. In my opinion, PO made enough of an impression in that last preseason game, that they decided he would PROBABLY be good enough playing in the NHL, so they kept him off waivers to retain their left d depth. However, knowing Smith really won the job performance wise, this had to be a terribly difficult decision for management. It’s kind of antithetical to what I’ve always heard from Mike Sullivan: that they want to ice the players that give… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by James
Fredrick
Fredrick
1 month ago

I mean if you trade Kap or Zucker you could potentially sign Milano (who said he would potentially sign for a one year veteran minimum contract). The kid showed flashes of potential. At the very least he would give us more than Kap did last season for cheaper….