The Pittsburgh Penguins want size and toughness. The NHL rumor mill churned, and we’ve been scouring the league looking for a trace of the Penguins trade activity to achieve that goal.
The best we’ve come up with so far is that Evgeni Malkin and Tristan Jarry will not be exposed to the Seattle Kraken via expansion draft, and the Penguins management is considering a veteran backup for Jarry.
On Tuesday, one name popped up in NHL trade rumors that should pique the curiosity of the Pittsburgh Penguins trade board.
According to former NHL defenseman and current Calgary 650 hockey analyst Shane O’Brien, Tkachuk would not mind a change of scenery from Stampede City.
Tkachuk is 23-years-old, 6-foot-2, 202 pounds, and knows how to play the physical game. He can also score. This season Tkachuk popped 43 points, including 16 goals in 56 games.
A physical LW in a top-six role would immediately fill a need for the Penguins, who will have to face the heavy Washington Capitals and New York Islanders next season while still dealing with speedy teams like the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Rangers. However, the Rangers may look a bit different next season. Put a pin in them with new GM Chris Drury and new coach Gerard Gallant.
On SiriusXM’s NHL channel’s “The Power Play with Steve Kouleas,” and first reported by Yahoo! Sports, O’Brien sparked the NHL trade rumor mill.
“I got a little rumor here…I got Tarasenko going to Calgary for Tkachuk,” O’Brien said. “I heard Tkachuk wants out of Calgary. Tarasenko’s time is up (in St. Louis). I think that’s a trade that could happen.”
Tarasenko is 29-years-old and has played just 34 games over the past two seasons because of serious shoulder surgery. He was an elite winger. Missing most of two seasons at 29 is tough. A bum shoulder for a sniper is even tougher.
O’Brien noted Tkachuk would like to play in his hometown, St. Louis, where his father, Keith Tkachuk, stared for nine years and is currently the Director of Player Recruitment.
It seems apropos in this case, doesn’t it?
“I just think the time is it for a change in Calgary. Is it going to happen,” O’Brien asked rhetorically. “I don’t know, but I just heard some rumblings that it could be a Tkachuk for Tarasenko thing.”
In this case, selective hearing is a good thing. Tkachuk may want St. Louis, but I heard “he wants out of Calgary.”
If that is the case, Ron Hextall has to make the call. Brian Burke should still have the receptionist’s number from his time running the Flames organization. Guess the Calgary Flames President of Hockey Operations in 2016 when Calgary drafted Tkachuk?
Yep, Brian Burke.
Tkachuk hit his stride in 2018-19 when he scored 34 goals and 77 points in 80 games. He slipped to 61 points in 69 games last season (23-38-61) and the 43-point total this season as Calgary struggled.
At 23-years-old, there’s little worry that Tkachuk is on the downside of his career or will be anytime soon. The worry is that Tkachuk makes $7 million for one more year and then has RFA with arbitration rights through 2023.
Is he a $7 million player? Ummm, well…kind of? That’s a lot of coin.
For Calgary to move Tkachuk at that price, they probably need to accept significant salary in return. Since O’Brien is no rumor-monger, we’ll assume this has some legs.
But why would a team want Tarasenko, who has two more years at $7.5 million, in return for a blue-chip trade prospect? A surgically repaired winger who hasn’t proven he’s healthy is a gamble worthy of the craps table in Las Vegas.
A team could take damaged goods, or the Pittsburgh Penguins have two left-wings with 30-goal resumes, including one with a 40-goal campaign, and both make significant salary.
There’s no word the Penguins have engaged in talks. No word the Penguins have an interest.
But if the Penguins want size and physicality…that Penguins trade inquiry would make 100% sense. Make the call.