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NHL Trade Rumors

Should Penguins, Senators Explore a Trade?



NHL trade speculation, Pittsburgh Penguins, Penguins trade fit with Ottawa Senators

The Pittsburgh Penguins still have nine NHL defensemen and enough money to keep only seven at the NHL level. Ty Smith and Mark Friedman are with the WBS Penguins, while P.O Joseph plies his craft in the big league after three years in the AHL. Following a summer of NHL trade speculation and at least one rejected deal, the Penguins trade chatter has died down despite a seven-game winless streak and no change in the surplus stock.

The Penguins turned down the chance to trade winger Jason Zucker to a Metro Division team because the other team also wanted a first-round pick to be included.

The quieted trade chatter could change quickly.

Center Teddy Bleuger appears to be ready to come off LTIR, which would fiscally shove the Penguins back to only 12 forwards on the roster. Salary cap limitations and injuries already forced the Penguins to play with seven defensemen and only 11 forwards once this season. GM Ron Hextall indicated there was a chance Blueger could be ready last weekend, but thus far, Blueger remains on the long-term injury list retroactive to the first game of the season.

He can’t stay there forever.

NHL Trade Partners?

Conversely, the Ottawa Senators have been big-game hunting for a defenseman on the NHL trade market.

They reportedly are interested in Arizona Coyotes defenseman and a hot commodity on the NHL trade market, Jakob Chychrun. Like every other team, Ottawa has balked at the Coyotes’ asking price for the oft-injured blue liner.

The price includes a first-round pick and top prospect or talented (but cheap) NHL players.

Ottawa GM Pierre Dorion may have painted himself into a corner this season. Following last season, Dorion told fans, “The rebuild is done. Now we’re stepping into a new zone.”

Yet Ottawa currently has four defensemen 25 and under on their blue line. Top-pairing left-sider Thomas Chabot suffered a concussion on Saturday when he was hit from behind by Philadelphia Flyers forward Travis Konecny.

Chabot is out for at least a week.

Ottawa is in last place in the Atlantic Division and needs a little more help.

Available Pieces

The Ottawa Senators have another issue they have yet to deal with, too. Lightning-fast LW Alex Formenton is an RFA and still unsigned. The Senators have until 5 p.m. on Dec. 1 to get him under contract, or he cannot play this season.

Formenton, 23, had 18 goals last season and 32 points (18-14-32) in 79 games. He also had four shorthanded goals as one of Ottawa’s primary penalty killers.

The Penguins PK remains mired near the bottom of the league.

PHN polled contacts about Formenton. One NHL team executive said Formenton has 25-goal potential if he slows down. The 6-foot-2, 165-pound winger won’t bring jam to a lineup, but he did have 101 hits and 44 takeaways last season. Also, his speed is elite.

Formenton, the Senators’ 2017 second-round pick (47th overall), projects to get around $1.5-$2 million on a new deal, but speculation is that Formenton wants a longer, higher-paying deal.

Ottawa also has about $4 million in salary cap space, which might be more valuable than any player they could offer.

The Penguins have a glut of defensemen and experience, which could help the young Senators. Brian Dumoulin and Jeff Carter are team leaders, but there are replacements for both.

Dumoulin’s rough start to the 2022-23 NHL season recently led to coach Mike Sullivan shuffling his defense pairings, and Dumoulin landed on the third pairing. Marcus Pettersson has more than competently filled Dumoulin’s top-pair spot beside Kris Letang.

Also, Ottawa center Josh Norris is out long-term, with no timetable for a return this season after suffering a torn labrum in October. That also creates a need for a center, especially one who can lend a hand offensively and be a leader like Carter.

Dumoulin makes $4.1 million on a deal that expires after this season, meaning the Penguins would have to accept salary in return or hold back part of Dumoulin’s or Carter’s salary.

Carter, 37, is signed through next season with a $3.125 million cap hit. He has eight points (2-6-8) in 12 games this season.

Whispers remain that Blueger could also be a trade chip. Former Montreal Canadiens first-round pick Ryan Poehling has centered the fourth line in Blueger’s absence.

The Pittsburgh Penguins trade cupboard also includes the spare defensemen toiling in the NHL. Both Smith and Friedman have NHL experience and value. However, Friedman cleared waivers before the season and has only two assists in 10 AHL games. His value is versatility and physicality.

On paper, the Penguins and Senators could be a good match, and the numbers line up, too. It’s the type of deal the Penguins need to pursue to activate Blueger and keep a spare forward on the NHL roster.