Connect with us

Penguins

4 Penguins Trade Possibilities If Malkin Does Not Re-Sign

Published

on

Pittsburgh Penguins. NHL trade, J.T. Miller, Vancouver Canucks

The Pittsburgh Penguins need a second-line center, either by re-signing Evgeni Malkin, in free agency, or they could pluck an available pivot off the NHL trade block later this summer.

For now, the Penguins don’t have a legitimate second center. Welcome to how the other half lives. Not every team can have a hall of fame captain who ranks among the top five all-time players followed by another center who is another generational talent. Not every team can roll out a second-line center capable of winning the game, winning the Art Ross, or dominating opponents at will.

A pair of all-world centers has been a luxury and the envy of the league. With just 22 days until the NHL free agent frenzy begins on July 13, the Penguins don’t have Malkin or a replacement under contract. Penguins GM Ron Hextall is presumably still working, or at least nibbling on a contract but those talks have been sworn to a level of secrecy rivaled only by KFC’s 11 herbs and spices.

If Malkin finds greener pastures, the consolation price will be having some or all of his $9.5 million salary cap hit to find a replacement.

There are a few potential UFA centers that fit the bill, beginning with Vincent Trocheck and Nazem Kadri, but what if the Colorado Avalanche re-signs Kadri? What if others throw more money at Trocheck than the Penguins think he is conceivably worth?

Both are very possible.

Besides the “uh oh” moment, the Penguins and Hextall will have to grab a cart, probably with a wobbly wheel, and go shopping on the NHL trade market. PHN has been sampling our colleagues, beating the bushes, and otherwise reading tea leaves to see which centers around the NHL will be or could be available.

No, second-line centers aren’t cheap, so we’ve had to exclude a few potential names that would fetch maximum value if they hit the market, like San Jose Sharks pivot Logan Couture.

Potential Pittsburgh Penguins Trade Targets

Adam Henrique, ANA

Anaheim is in the midst of a youth movement. Ryan Getzlaf retired. Newbies Trevor Zegras and Troy Terry electrified casual fans with “Michigan” goals. Jamie Drysdale is barely 20 years old and will be a star.

Yet the team is near the bottom of the standings and Adam Henrique is a 32-year-old center with two years left on a contract that carries a $5.8 million AAV. Henrique’s offense seems to be tied to his usage. He’s been a third-line center and a top-line center in Anaheim. With good wingers, Henrique could maintain his .72 points-per-game pace of this season.

Henrique had 42 points (19-23-42) in 58 games.

He lacks the high-end offensive skill, but he’s also defensively responsible. For most of his career, Henrique has also killed penalties. He could be the right blend of value and upside.

Jamie Benn, DAL

Benn, 32, made the unusual later-career switch to center from LW last season. He anchored the Dallas Stars’ second line with Tyler Seguin on the right side for much of this season. He had only 46 points in 82 games and was a significant minus-13, but most of the reviews of his play were positive.

He’s loved in the locker room and trusted by coaches. He brings a power game, size (6-foot-2, 210 pounds), and is typically better down the stretch and in the playoffs. The Penguins could sure use more players able to elevate their game in the playoffs.

He makes $9.5 million (AAV) for three more seasons, so he would not represent any savings over Malkin’s current deal. However, Dallas needs to make some changes. Their bubble Stanley Cup Final run notwithstanding, they’ve not been a consistent playoff team. Perhaps they’d like to spend that money elsewhere.

Kevin Hayes, PHI?

No. Well, at least not yet. This week, new Philadelphia Flyers head coach John Tortorella gave Hayes the kiss of death in his opening press conference. Tortorella said he’s looking forward to working with Hayes, and that Hayes has more to give. Uh oh. That means Hayes will be Tortorella’s target to remake the team. Sometimes, the tactic works. Usually, it means the player will be traded by next summer (see also, Ryan Johansen, Pierre Luc Dubois).

Yanni Gourde, SEA

Tampa Bay didn’t want to give up Gourde, who was a zippy center with finish in the Sunshine state. However, the expansion draft mandates such things, and Gourde went to Seattle.

Gourde, 30, is only 5-foot-9, but there is a lot of fight in that dog. Gourde is a physical player who can skate, score, and is defensively responsible. He’s been a consistent 20-goal scorer and knocked 21 goals this season.

Seattle isn’t close to contending as GM Ron Francis decided on the scenic route; they are building from the ground up. So, a player like Gourde could fetch more future pieces for Seattle. He’s not on the NHL trade block, but a 30-year-old player with three years left on his contract is rarely unavailable.

Gourde’s AAV is just over $5.1 million, so he would be affordable, too. However, the Penguins would probably have to sacrifice a top prospect, perhaps even a top pick.

Honorable mention: Jared McCann, but I like Gourde as a more consistent producer in the middle.

J.T. Miller, VAN

The NHL trade rumors have been percolating all season. Miller has one season left at a $5.25 million AAV, and it makes sense for the Pittsburgh Penguins to covet a speedy, scoring center.

Miller, 29, scored 99 points this season with 32 goals in 80 games. Per President of Hockey Operations Jim Rutherford, Vancouver plans to offer a QO to RFA Brock Boeser. That will essentially max out Vancouver’s salary cap, and someone has to go.

Things aren’t great in Vancouver–head coach Bruce Boudreau is a lame duck, NHL analyst Nick Kypreos called the locker room “a country club,” and they missed the playoffs.

Miller’s career year belies his typical statistics. His previous career-best was 72 points in 2019-20. His second-best season prior to his monster outburst this season was 56 points with the 2016-17 New York Rangers.

So, he really can’t be called a 100-point center…unless he does it again.

Ordinarily, we would say a trade for Miller is way out of the Penguins’ price range. However, perhaps Rutherford and GM Patrick Allvin have some residual love for their former players. Perhaps some combination of a young defenseman, a prospect, and an NHL player?

Or, Evgeni Malkin could re-sign and this is moot. The clock is ticking on all options.

Subscribe to PHN+
28 Comments
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
28 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Rich Filardi
Rich Filardi
3 months ago

Only one for me is JT Miller-the other players are a hard pass and overpaid.

Wasnt
3 months ago

I’m a fan of Kadri. He’s gritty,dirty whatever you call it and he almost put Ovechicken out a few years ago. Kept going low on his knees

Bob
Bob
2 months ago
Reply to  Wasnt

I was reading the Washington Capitals are going to try and get him..

Deb DAmico
Deb DAmico
3 months ago

This is a joke, right?

Rob
Rob
3 months ago
Reply to  Deb DAmico

It is what i have been saying. So many people are clamoring for Malkin to go bye bye and don’t care that the real options to replace him are downgrades.

Wasnt
3 months ago
Reply to  Rob

Calm down, it’s not clamoring it’s just a bunch of ‘what if senecios’.. Something fun to ponder. Who would you take….IF…Geno bails to the Panthers? His wife loves Florida.
Writers gotta write something this time of year.

Rob
Rob
3 months ago
Reply to  Wasnt

My comment wasn’t about the article. It was more directed to all the yinzers who hate Malkin and believe he can do nothing good for the team and offer no replacement solutions. This article proves my point. Unless they pull off a miracle trade for Miller, the Pens are going to be hurting if Malkin goes elsewhere.

And for the record, i am tired of all the what if scenarios lol I want stuff to start happening.

Last edited 3 months ago by Robert Shoemaker
Wasnt
3 months ago
Reply to  Rob

I hear ya…..I’m sure I’ll start getting sick of all the trade talk also but I’m just not that frustrated yet……yet.
What’s up with the yinzer?? like it’s a bad thing?? I take it your not from the Burgh.

Kris
Kris
3 months ago
Reply to  Rob

Why would Hextall hurry up and sign Geno? I would wait till the 13th of July and let him entertain offers. Who is really going to sign Geno for big money. All these folks on here bashing people for wanting to move on, get your heart out of your head and start looking realistically at the situation. Anything over $5-million per year is an overpay. Is he worth $7-million, maybe but what’s 80% of 7 million, $5.6 million and since he might play at best 80% of the games, then that’s what he should accept. No one outside of Pittsburgh… Read more »

Rob
Rob
3 months ago
Reply to  Kris

Any number of teams could sign him. Teams that need a 2nd line center and enough cap space or willingness to make room for his salary. Seattle definitely has cap space and needs a captain. That is just one off the top of my head.

Bob
Bob
2 months ago
Reply to  Wasnt

Panthers are 5 million over salary cap already. Don’t thing they can afford him. Maybe the Caps can get him since they love to pick up former Penguin players. At least Malkin Would have protection unlike here in Pittsburgh. Or maybe the arrangers since they love to pick up old talent!

Bob
Bob
3 months ago
Reply to  Rob

Yeah that is if he can play a full season unlike the last 3.

Rob
Rob
3 months ago
Reply to  Bob

Hockey is a rough sport. Players get hurt ALL THE TIME, so why is Malkin singled out for this? Crosby has missed a crap ton of games and no one is running him out of town.

Wags
Wags
3 months ago
Reply to  Rob

Malkin is a future H. O. Famer but doesn’t bring it every night. Some nights you would never never know he was on the ice!

Bob
Bob
2 months ago
Reply to  Rob

Yeah but not the last 2 years he carried the team while Malkin watched from the press box at times.for the past 3 years%

Greg
Greg
3 months ago
Reply to  Rob

When Malkin got back into the ice people forget the knee was “good enough” to play on. However, it did not mean the conditioning to play all out and get that knee settled into form was there. It takes awhile. Is a 2/3 Malkin better or worse than many second line centers in the league? Now with more time to rehab what will Malkin’s play be like next season?

Bob
Bob
2 months ago
Reply to  Rob

Maybe the Pens need to look at teams who want to shred salary and withhold some instead of looking at these free agents,

Zane Gearhart
Zane Gearhart
3 months ago

The 2nd line is a huge question for next year. Not just the center position. They still need at least 1 more top 6 winger. Without a winger who can score then whomever is center won’t have much to work with. Would the pens consider moving geno to wing and bringing a new center in for the 2nd line?

Brandon O
Brandon O
3 months ago

The center market is going to continue to evolve and there will be some surprise names available this summer. I think the penguins should be patient and see what unfolds. Anything over 7×3 for Malkin is going to hurt this team more then help. Letang is obviously irreplaceable but paying 8+ for him hurts too. They each have 1 or 2 years max until the wheels fall off and theyre worth half those #s. Cap space will be a huge weapon in the coming years as impact players graduate out from their elc and squeeze out decent veterans. The stagnant… Read more »

Jason
3 months ago

JT Miller is the only one I would be interested in he is the youngest out of the bunch and I like his game the most and doesn’t completely break the bank the rest are too old and to much money Pens need to get younger not older!

Jason
3 months ago
Reply to  Dan Kingerski

I respect your opinion and work but I am just not crazy about Gourde another small speedy guy with miles on him. As for Henrique watching a few games last year of him doesn’t seem to have a lot in the tank he is offensively skilled just not sure he is the missing piece? If Malkin leaves it will be very interesting to see who Hextall signs or trades for? Seems like there could be a lot of moving pieces this summer seems____ anyway. Thank you Dan for your work always entertaining and enjoyable to read wether I agree or… Read more »

Bob
Bob
2 months ago
Reply to  Jason

You sign Miller and Letang your going to see about 18 of the 23 Million gone to sign other players so you better shred some more salary. Besides don’t want to give Rutherford any more of our future like he gave it away here.

John
John
3 months ago

2 options to truly trade for, who will be UFA next yr and you sign long term & build your future around. As many agree it’s 30yr old JT-Miller the Ohio native & Pittsburgh Hornets U18 graduate. Talk about Merchandise & ticket sales staying sold out. After him it’s 26yr old Dylan Larkin.

Greg
Greg
3 months ago

Unfortunately, I believe that what is being said and what is reality are two different things. Pens management initial 5 mil dollar offers to Geno and Letang spoke louder than we are working hard to sign them both. Professional sports is a business and the business end not the faithful end has kicked in

Bob
Bob
2 months ago

Since Edmonton needs to shed salary, How about Tyson Barrie in Edmonton to replace Malkin. A good two way center who knows how to play defense unlike Malkin. Also Jesse Puljujarvi who wants out of Edmonton. A block buster deal would be nice..