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The 6 Things on the Pittsburgh Penguins Wishlist

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Pittsburgh Penguins, Evan Rodrigues, Kris Letang

Twas the day before Christmas, and all through the fanbase, not a creature was stirring, except this writing louse.
The sweaters and socks were hung with care in the hopes Evgeni would soon be there.
The children quietly pondered, while NHL trade rumors danced through their heads.
The Pittsburgh Penguins with a seven-game streak but up against the cap, have settled in for a holiday nap.

But what will arise from the trade deadline or the offseason chatter?
Do not worry, PHN is chasing the matter.
Will the Penguins be able to free up some cash
For Sidney to make one more Stanley Cup dash?

Ok, ok, sometimes I do silly things just to see if you’re still paying attention. The Pittsburgh Penguins are solidly among the top eight teams in the Eastern Conference after their seven-game winning streak. That streak will resume Monday in Boston. For now, the holiday break sent the players home and canceled their participation in the Beijing Olympics.

In keeping with the season, we’ll imagine what the Penguins letter to Santa might contain.

Pittsburgh Penguins Wishlist:

1. A healthy Evgeni Malkin

The Penguins have an advantage over almost every team if their top four centers are Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jeff Carter, and Teddy Blueger. It frees head coach Mike Sullivan to exploit matchups. Last May, on one leg, Evgeni Malkin was one of the best players in their Round One loss to the New York Islanders. Does a healthy Malkin also get Kasperi Kapanen on the right side of the ledger?

2. Wake up, Kasperi

Kapanen has an elite skill set but currently average production. Perhaps it’s a beautiful irony that he was traded for Phil Kessel, who similarly zombied through regular seasons before filling the score sheet in the playoffs. Kapanen had 14 points in 14 games from late February through March 16, when Malkin suffered a knee injury. The two have a little chemistry, and maybe, just maybe, that’s the explosion we’re waiting to see.

3. Evan Rodrigues to not wake up

While the Penguins must wake up Kapanen from his nightmare, high on their wishlist is for Evan Rodrigues’s dream season to continue. The 28-year-old has been fighting for a legit NHL chance, and he’s making the most of it. Has there been a more consistent Penguins scorer?

In 29 games, Rodrigues has 23 points, including a career-high 10 goals. No part of his game looks like a fluke. From 12 shots against Montreal to a steady stream of points, and being able to hang with Sidney Crosby, this looks good.

4. Cash

Like the Christmas scene in Donnie Brasco, who doesn’t like a little respect via an envelope of cash? The Pittsburgh Penguins salary cap structure will be pressed when Malkin returns, so a little envelope of salary cap cash couldn’t hurt.

Using the PuckPedia.com GM feature, we’ve played around with potential Penguins’ moves. It appears GM Ron Hextall will only have enough cash for 12 forwards and seven defensemen if everyone is healthy. Only 12 forwards means demoting Drew O’Connor, and Dominik Simon and Brian Boyle through waivers to WBS.

Boyle could be a paper move and hang around, but that seems less than ideal.

Even after taking an ax to the bottom of the lineup, the Penguins would only have about $279,000 of salary cap space–not enough to make a recall should another forward suffer an injury or test positive for COVID. That seems like living dangerously.

5. NHL trade victory

Since the Penguins and Hextall will have to visit the NHL trade market to make it all work, their wishlist should include a desperate GM willing to make the Penguins better while accepting more salary than given.

Hey, it’s a wishlist, not a reality list.

Jason Zucker will find himself the most desirable to move, given Rodrigues’ emergence and his sagging production. However, he’ll also be the toughest to move, per his $5.5 million AAV through next season.

Unfortunately, if the Penguins don’t find an envelope of cash or a rival GM having a George Bailey moment, Zach Aston-Reese, Danton Heinen, and even Brock McGinn could be on the NHL trade block to find enough cap space to activate Malkin AND have a 13th forward.

6. A right-handed defenseman

The Penguins and Chad Rudhwedel have done well to get to this point. However, Ruhwedel has three points (0-3-3). That’s not quite what the Penguins need or want, especially after being spoiled by a dynamic blue line last season.

The Penguins appear to be rounding into a competitive, good team capable of being a difficult out in the playoffs. More push from their blue line would elevate their standing from tough team to dangerous team.

The NHL trade market is where to look.

Philadelphia Flyers Justin Braun has a booming shot from the point, though he doesn’t play an offensive game. He makes just $1.8 million. He could be a nice addition.

Perhaps the Penguins could entice the Buffalo Sabres to part with Colin Miller, a pending UFA, and shed salary at the same time? At $3.8 million, Miller would be a stout addition to the Penguins rearguards. And maybe Buffalo wants some NHL talent instead of picks and prospects?

Enjoy the holiday, my friends.

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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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Brian
Brian
6 months ago

Haha Dan love the Christmas parody to open up the story! Great job man!

Dan
Dan
6 months ago

Well there’s a new GM in Vancouver that has already twice traded for Kasperi Kapanen and once threw a boatload of an offer for Zucker…and didn’t he recommend Hextall for his old job…hmmm…just saying..J T Miller !,,,,,

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[…] Pittsburgh: Hockey Now’s Editor-in-Chief Dan Kingerski presents “Six things on the Penguins’ wish list.” […]

Rob
Rob
6 months ago

If I had one Penguins Christmas wish, it would be for Hextall to trade Zucker. Great guy, awesome teammate, works hard, but he is getting paid top six salary and has never produced points with Pittsburgh. He NEEDS a change of scenery and the Penguins need the cap space or someone who can put up points.

Frank
Frank
6 months ago

In today’s NHL is think pulling off a trade is an incredibly difficult job. But if they go down this road (and that really is there only choice) my Christmas wishes are this: Please . .. please . .. do not trade any more draft picks. The cupboard is bare and that is going to cause deep pain very soon If they are serious about keeping the core again . . . that they do not lose sight of the fact that you cannot “go home again.” Is there anyone out there that honestly believes that the core today compares… Read more »

William Maloni
William Maloni
6 months ago

I liked it Dan; keep it up!

Jeff Young
Jeff Young
6 months ago

Zucker’s situation reminds me of Tanner Pearson or David Perron. Players that seem to excel in the West. Still convinced that Pettersson is the best chip to move for help though.

Uros
Uros
6 months ago

Everything is spot on. Really nice article. I see I’m not alone in wishing Zucker could be under that somene else’s tree. Happy holidays and see you monday. Or maybe not, who knows?

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[…] More depth on the right side of the D-corps would be a welcome sight. Colin Miller of the Sabres would be just one name that comes to mind. The 29-year-old pending UFA makes under $4-million a season. Again, a little irony, or is it a coincidence, the Pittsburgh Penguins may be thinking the same thing. […]

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[…] Dan Kingerski of Pittsburgh Hockey Now: The emergence of Pittsburgh Penguins winger Evan Rodrigues might make winger Jason Zucker out there. Zucker has a 12 months left at $5.5 million and might not be simple to maneuver. […]

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[…] Dan Kingerski of Pittsburgh Hockey Now: The emergence of Pittsburgh Penguins winger Evan Rodrigues may make winger Jason Zucker available. Zucker has a year left at $5.5 million and may not be easy to move. […]

trackback

[…] Dan Kingerski of Pittsburgh Hockey Now: The emergence of Pittsburgh Penguins winger Evan Rodrigues may make winger Jason Zucker available. Zucker has a year left at $5.5 million and may not be easy to move. […]

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[…] Dan Kingerski of Pittsburgh Hockey Now: The emergence of Pittsburgh Penguins winger Evan Rodrigues might make winger Jason Zucker obtainable. Zucker has a 12 months left at $5.5 million and is probably not simple to maneuver. […]

trackback

[…] Dan Kingerski of Pittsburgh Hockey Now: The emergence of Pittsburgh Penguins winger Evan Rodrigues may make winger Jason Zucker available. Zucker has a year left at $5.5 million and may not be easy to move. […]

trackback

[…] Dan Kingerski of Pittsburgh Hockey Now: The emergence of Pittsburgh Penguins winger Evan Rodrigues may make winger Jason Zucker available. Zucker has a year left at $5.5 million and may not be easy to move. […]

trackback

[…] Dan Kingerski of Pittsburgh Hockey Now: The emergence of Pittsburgh Penguins winger Evan Rodrigues might make winger Jason Zucker accessible. Zucker has a yr left at $5.5 million and will not be straightforward to maneuver. […]

trackback

[…] Dan Kingerski of Pittsburgh Hockey Now: The emergence of Pittsburgh Penguins winger Evan Rodrigues could make winger Jason Zucker accessible. Zucker has a 12 months left at $5.5 million and will not be straightforward to maneuver. […]

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[…] Dan Kingerski of Pittsburgh Hockey Now: The emergence of Pittsburgh Penguins winger Evan Rodrigues may make winger Jason Zucker available. Zucker has a year left at $5.5 million and may not be easy to move… Penguins forwards Zach Aston-Reese, Danton Heinen and Brock McGinn could also be moved. […]

trackback

[…] More depth on the right side of the Vancouver Canucks D-corps would be a welcome sight. Colin Miller of the Sabres would be just one name that comes to mind. The 29-year-old pending UFA makes under $4-million a season. Again, a little irony, or is it a coincidence, the Pittsburgh Penguins may be thinking the same thing. […]

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