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Potential Penguins Trade Returns; What Are the Veterans Worth?

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Pittsburgh Penguins trade bait, Rickard Rakell, Reilly Smith, P.O Joseph

Kyle Dubas admitted he wants draft picks. The Pittsburgh Penguins president of hockey operations/GM wants to acquire them urgently, or at least as urgently as he can do it.

It is a stark departure from more than a decade of tossing away draft picks chasing fixes and improvements by using the selections as capital on the NHL trade market. They’ve tossed a first-rounder and second-rounder for Erik Karlsson, a second-rounder for Mikael Granlund the year before.

Between 2014 and 2021, the Penguins had just one first-round pick, selecting Sam Poulin in 2019. The lack of prospects and a discernible pipeline of replacements compounded their need for trades, and the vicious cycle depleted the Penguins’ prospect pool.

Dubas said he will attempt to undo the decade of neglect quickly, but whether he can stockpile the picks without gutting the Penguins roster is another matter.

Recent history gives a pretty good window into what players can bring back, and the rising salary cap should help Dubas’s quest but many teams have already spent their extra cap space.

So, what can Dubas get for his players?

Penguins Value on Trade Market

Tristan Jarry

It’s not happening, but with so many of you clamoring for it, we’ll throw you a bone. Jarry would not command the king’s ransom that the Calgary Flames will get if GM Craig Conroy trades Jacob Markstrom or the Boston Bruins part with Linus Ullmark.

At the 2024 NHL trade deadline, the New Jersey Devils parted with a third-rounder for Jake Allen, whose value is probably a bit less than Jarry due to a consistent sub .900 save percentage and is 33 years old. The Vancouver Canucks also included a third-rounder when they traded Tanner Pearson for Casey DeSmith.

DeSmith and his backup status should need little introduction to Penguins fans.

The goalie market in 2022-23 was barren. The LA Kings gave Columbus a first-round pick, a third-rounder, and fading Jonathan Quick in exchange for Vladislav Gavrikov and goalie Joonas Korpisalo. The high cost for the Kings was in part to shed Quick’s hefty salary.

Perhaps the easiest comparison was the Washington Capitals trading Vitek Vanecek to New Jersey on July 8, 2021, for a second and third-round pick.

Given Vanecek’s talent and potential but lack of consistent production in 2021, that’s probably the closest comparison. So, let’s say trading Jarry would net a second and third-round pick.

(And that’s why it won’t happen).

Reilly Smith

At the 2023 NHL Draft, the Penguins acquired Smith from the Vegas Golden Knights, who needed to shed salary, for a third-round pick. Smith had two years remaining on his contract with a $5 million cap hit at the time of the trade but now has a more moveable one-year remaining.

The Penguins’ problem is Smith had a bad year. After a torrid start, he went ice-cold beside Evgeni Malkin and shuffled around the Penguins lineup in the second half of the season, finishing with only 13 goals and 40 points.

Those stats certainly don’t equate to a $5 million salary, but with only one year remaining, an acquiring team isn’t on the hook for years if the trade doesn’t work. A third-rounder probably isn’t feasible, but a mid-round pick to shed the salary seems plausible based on Smith’s past success, including a handful of 20-goal seasons in his 13-year career.

Rickard Rakell

Once upon a time, former GM Ron Hextall acquired Rakell for a few bottom-of-the-lineup players and a second-round pick. Rakell has four years remaining with a cap hit of $5 million. It’s not much of a gamble to acquire Rakell, but the number of suitors who would want to pick up the payments might be limited.

A second or third-round pick and perhaps a mid-tier prospect or some help for the bottom of the lineup would be the return.

Marcus Pettersson

Pettersson has one year remaining on his contract with a $4.083 million cap hit. It’s been an adventurous run for Pettersson, who was once the promising young defenseman, then a disappointing player with an overpaying deal, and now perhaps the Penguins’ most steady defenseman.

The trade market for competent defensemen is always fertile soil. A later first-round pick is not out of the question, but Pettersson’s trade haul would more likely be a package. When Calgary traded Chris Tanev, they netted a second and a conditional third-round pick in a three-team deal.

The Penguins could easily get a second for Pettersson and likely a prospect to boot, but they would unlikely be a better team

Noel Acciari

The Penguins’ fourth-line center had an obvious impact on the lineup, which was more noticeable in his absence than his presence. He can slot as either wing or center. On the wings, he has some crash and bang. In the middle, he’s perfectly responsible and difficult to play against.

As a 15-point center, a team wouldn’t be acquiring him for offense but to improve their penalty kill and speed and add some jam. He’s not expensive, carrying just a $2 million salary cap hit, but his value is capped at a third-round pick for a team that might need a veteran and a penalty kill boost.

Lars Eller

The Penguins resolute third-line center. He’s one of the consciences of the locker room and an intense player. He’s a winner, but do the Penguins need his intangibles as much as a team that is trying to get over a hump or win the Stanley Cup?

When the Colorado Avalanche acquired Eller at the 2023 trade deadline, it cost them a second-round pick, and there’s no reason to think Eller’s value has gone down. He’s got an affordable $2.3 million cap hit for one more season and the Penguins very well might have young players soon ready to fill the third-line center role.

Brayden Yager, Sam Poulin, and Vasily Ponomarev are three who could get a look in training camp and preseason. Even Drew O’Connor could fill the role in a pinch. It’s probably a bit of a stretch for any of the Penguins’ prospects to fill the role in October, but Eller has trade value, and there will be stop-gap free agents available at the same price or less.

Realistic Penguins’ Trade Haul

Pound the table or keyboard as you might, Jarry won’t be traded unless someone comes to the table with an offer the team cannot resist. Rakell is also far less likely to be traded than other veterans.

So, if Dubas swings a deal for all of Smith, Acciari, and Eller, he could conceivably get back a second-round pick, a third-rounder, a mid-round selection, or some combination of a commensurate prospect or two. If Dubas is feeling brave and includes Pettersson, he could include another second-rounder and more, but there is the matter of creating a competitive team in 2024-25.

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Brian X
Brian X
6 days ago

It’s interesting how the Penguins, especially Jarry, are touted as top tier players until it’s time to consider their trade value. Then, the realization that they are just average sets in.

Tim Curtis
Tim Curtis
5 days ago

Smith needs to depart. However, trading away Eller or Acciari wouldn’t net anything worth acquiring. Trading Jarry is a consideration if they keep Nedeljkovic and believe Blomqvist is ready.
This team needs more offense on the 3rd line too.

Howard Lauderback
Howard Lauderback
5 days ago

2nd and 3rd for Jarry, where do I sign.

Nathan
Nathan
5 days ago

Trading all the draft picks had a lot to do with winning two Stanley Cups. I’ll live with that return. Same thing happened to Chicago and the LA Kings.

ed nelson
ed nelson
5 days ago

Not a bad plan given the mandate to keep the core competitive. Trade current assets for the future and use the room on the salary cap to fill the current roster. It doesn’t hurt to turn over some of current roster either.

T.J. Bunner
T.J. Bunner
5 days ago

Totally agree on Jarry. He’s not going anywhere, nor should he. To trust Blomqvist and a FA would be ludicrous. Smith seems like the only candidate worth trading. The cap space alone would be worth the trade. Rakell can still provide the Pens with a Top 6 Winger who brings potential. I’d like to see Acciari moved, but at that price…he’s worth the bottom 6 spot. Pettersson and Eller bring more to the lineup than they’d ever bring in return.

When it’s all said and done, I see only Smith moved.

Aaron
Aaron
5 days ago
Reply to  T.J. Bunner

Could not have said it better myself. Where we may differ is Eller, he had some bright spots but he’s old. Trust the NHL goaltender rather than rookie or below average journeymen. Get rid of the guy who doesn’t even want to be in Pittsburgh (Smith). Give Rakell another year, sign Acciari cheap, and keep Pettersson.

Rich81
Rich81
5 days ago

Draft captial and cap space is an asset for a team that isn’t a cup contender and trying to build through youth per Dubas. I would move anyone that can help you achieve that in order to start the process in the right direction.

Dean
Dean
5 days ago

If you could get a late first, I would trade Pettersson all day long. Smith and Accari I would take any thing for them. You could pick up Joshua and Stenlund for the same money or less. Both are 27 and that would replace the points. Ellar and Rakell, I would wait until the trade deadline. The value could be higher.

Centralpa
Centralpa
5 days ago

Every scenario is on the table without trading your best prospects. Dubas thought process. Pens biggest available asset is Pettersson, package him with Poluin/2nd could bring back the players / assets to push this team. . Smith for 2nd/ fringe AHL /another change of scenery younger fringe top 6. Accari keep. Jarry why at the start of March he becomes one of the worst goalies? Overplayed? Injuries?? Defense in front? If a team calls & fills your needs you have to say yes and Sign Neddy run Blomqvist. I do believe PO, Ellers will be traded at mid deadline. Rackell… Read more »

Dean
Dean
5 days ago
Reply to  Centralpa

Dubas is not giving away prospects.

Centralpa
Centralpa
5 days ago
Reply to  Dean

With limited NHL pieces to move Poulin isn’t a prospect anymore, he’s shown he can play at AHL level when healthy & depth. What he is, an asset to complete a bigger NHL acquisition/package.

Rick C
Rick C
5 days ago

Dan, a Tristan Jarry trade may not be happening but you and Sullivan both died on that hill last season and seem bent on repeating history. You both are ignoring all the evidence that says run away screaming from this goalie whose Sv% plummeted when the game was on the line (tied or up by 1 G). The only time he stopped pucks in blowouts. His 19-25-5 record stand as a testament to his worthlessness. If Dubas can get a bag of used pucks and a broken stick for him, he needs to take it. Any attempt to argue against… Read more »

Dean
Dean
5 days ago
Reply to  Rick C

You have a bias opinion on what happened this year. The “team” in front of both goalies stopped playing for 22 games. They were top 3 pair in the league.

Rick C
Rick C
5 days ago
Reply to  Dean

No, I have a completely objective opinion. If it was a team thing Ned would not have had a 18-7-7 record, it would have been just as abysmal as Jarry’s 19-25-5. The fact of the matter, as I have said above, is Jarry was an empty jersey when the game was on the line. His Sv% when the the game was tied was 0.887% (well below 0.900%, while Ned’s was better (barely better – but better) 0.905%. And even when the team staked him to a 1 goal lead he still stunk, turning in a Sv% 0.890%. This isn’t a… Read more »

Last edited 5 days ago by Rick C
Aaron
Aaron
5 days ago
Reply to  Rick C

And yet if you actually look at goalie stats, Jarry had the better stats. If Jarry gets a loss in a 2-1 game and Ned gets a win in a 6-5 game… How does that show that Ned is any better? You’ve been biased against Jarry, I’ve seen your idiotic commentary about him over the years. The run at the end of the year was how the core and young guys played while also getting Graves out of the lineup, not because of Ned.

Rick C
Rick C
5 days ago
Reply to  Aaron

Let me repeat, it is a matter of record, Jarry was non existent when the game was on the line. He didn’t win a whole lot of games at all, let alone 2 – 1 games. He only won 19 all season, and most of those wins were blowouts, where the skaters got quick goals in rapid succession, before the other team could get a shot on goal and tie it up. When trying to defend 1 G leads his Sv% was just as awful. The only reason his Sv% inched back over 0.900 was the number of games in… Read more »

Aaron
Aaron
4 days ago
Reply to  Rick C

My point is that I’d rather roll with Jarry than Ned or any other scraps they can find. A year of Nedeljkovic would’ve been so much worse, IF NED WAS THE STARTER ALL YEAR THE PENGUINS ARE A LOTTERY TEAM. Even during their run at the end of the year, Ned looked like trash. He is not a #1 goaltender.

Rick C
Rick C
4 days ago
Reply to  Aaron

You are not alone in your thoughts, the Penguins thought the same way – unfortunately, that way didn’t work; Jarry won only 19 games out of 48 starts and 3 relief efforts (51 GP in all). First, among the other scraps the team could have signed last season, besides Ned (18-7-7) was Anthony Stolarz who was far better than both (16-7-2, 0.925%). If the team had signed Ned and Stolarz they would have saved $4.275 Mil, which could have been spent on better D and/or a real Winger. Perhaps neither Ned nor Stolarz are not starters, but neither is Jarry.… Read more »

Aaron
Aaron
3 days ago
Reply to  Rick C

The team in front of Stolarz is going to win a Stanley Cup while the team in front of Jarry missed playoffs. If it was Ned all year, the team in front of him would’ve had a lottery pick. You’re seriously biased if you think starting Ned and Stolarz would’ve been better than Jarry and Ned. Tbh I’m glad Ned is getting credit for the end of the year run because now some inept team will overpay for him.

Rick C
Rick C
3 days ago
Reply to  Aaron

You really don’t watch much do you? Stolarz is playing on a team going for the Cup but he wasn’t coddled. His W-L record could have been influenced by the firepower of the team in front of him, but his Sv% wasn’t. Stolarz had higher Sv% across the board than their starter. He also faced far more dangerous shouts than Bobs and our Penguins millstone, Jarry. (8.44/60 vs 7.22/60 vs 7.68. Furthermore, in his entire career, Jarry has been AWOL after his 22nd game of the season – part of the reason this team hasn’t been in the playoffs the… Read more »

Rick C
Rick C
5 days ago
Reply to  Dan Kingerski

Sorry Dan, but all sports are about stats. Ws and Ls are stats. In hockey, GF and GA lead to Ws and Ls – more stats. The only people who don’t like stats are the losers. The stats are the bench marks of their loss. As for Goalies being subject to the players in front of them, skaters are subject to the goalie behind them. When the team can’t trust their Goalie to make a save, they have to adapt their game. Jarry saved his worst play for when the team needed him most and the team tried to tighten… Read more »

Rich81
Rich81
5 days ago
Reply to  Rick C

Jarry is right up there with players who have all this talent and have essentially not done much with it, when it matters. The clamoring to keep this guy is astounding. Like, have you not watched this team the last few seasons & seen the results. The guy couldn’t get a start during the most important part of last season. Ned was solid, but not great. That should be your number 1 playing then. The writing is on the wall. If you can trade him & get out from the remaining 4 years. Do it, doesnt matter the return. Should… Read more »

Last edited 5 days ago by Rich81
Vittorio
Vittorio
4 days ago
Reply to  Rich81

Ned is not a No.1 Goalie and Jarry is not going anywhere but for some reason you ignore that and foolishly believe otherwise and hey that’s fine but come opening night Jarry will be the starter. Now you don’t have to like it but you will learn to live with it and if not well I guess you can go watch another team or you can ask the Pens FO that you can the job since you like to talk about who is and who isn’t a No.1 Goalie.

Rick C
Rick C
4 days ago
Reply to  Vittorio

Reality: that is why our Penguins have missed the playoffs the last 2 seasons, failed to get out of the first round the 4 prior to that (getting swept once and losing to the 24th rank Canadiens in another), they make all the right calls until the puck is dropped. What is the saying about doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?

Nobody said Ned was a No. 1, all that was pointed out was that he was better than Jarry

Rich81
Rich81
4 days ago
Reply to  Vittorio

Ned is more of a 1B, or play as he did this year when your starter falls on flat on his face. While Vit, I have lived with it for the past couple of years and when he signed that ridiculous extension. I knew it would be a couple more. I also know he would never fulfill the entire contract here. Actually, I have sent my resume to the Pens because I believe I could help them. Educationally, professionally & athletic wise have been in the business for over 3 decades. If you endured Hextall, them anyone is fair game.

Vittorio Di Stazio Jr
Vittorio Di Stazio Jr
4 days ago
Reply to  Rich81

You obviously didn’t read the comment correctly. I asked you to go apply for the Goaltending Job not be a part of the FO. See no Fan regardless of how long they have been in the “business” will ever get there foot in the door as far as being a member of the FO. There is a better chance of Kingerski being hired for a FO role than you do. I ask everyone who reads this comment and replies to it, does anybody really believe Rich81 can be the Pens starting Goaltender or is he trying to pull the wool… Read more »

Rick C
Rick C
3 days ago

Typical response from someone who really has nothing to say but wants to posture

Vittorio
Vittorio
3 days ago
Reply to  Rick C

No your problem is that you want me to be like most other Pens fans and give up on a player. Well hate to break it to ya but that ain’t happening. Jarry will be the best netminders on opening so as it stands you have 2 options: 1.Continue down this path of hoping Jarry gets moved(HIGHLY DOUBTFUL) or 2. Live with the fact that Jarry is going to be the Pens No.1 Goalie and there isn’t a single thing you can do about it.

Rick C
Rick C
3 days ago
Reply to  Rich81

I don’t have any problems but you do. You do not argue objectively. You take offense to anyone who doesn’t have an opinion that agrees with yours and you immediately go on the attack, mocking them rather than addressing the evidence they present.

Rick C
Rick C
5 days ago
Reply to  Dan Kingerski

Sorry Dan but you are still trying to defend Jarry. I have followed this team since 1967. I have watched thousands of penguin games live and on tv. I have also coached (albeit on a much lower level) hundreds of games. You don’t have to like what I say, but you did say sign Jarry at all costs before last season started and Jarry lost far more games than he won.

William Maloni
William Maloni
5 days ago

Thanks, DK, for a very thoughtful analysis. BTW, I also would add POJ to the list of tradeables.

Ujn Hunter
Ujn Hunter
5 days ago

Pretty sure Eller as a Player and a Leader in the Room is more valuable to the Penguins than any draft pick would be.

Uros
Uros
5 days ago

Dubas can talk all he wants, but there’s nothing worth anything. Either he sells out and tanks, or goes about business as usual. If your players play well they’ll have value and you’ll get your picks. The way we’ve played last season I wouldn’t consider anyone apart from those that can’t be traded if I were an opposing GM. Nobody gives away picks. Earn them on ice and then we’ll talk.

Jeff Young
Jeff Young
5 days ago
Reply to  Uros

Stop with the logic! 🙂 It makes my head hurt.