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Penguins Trade Talk

Updated Penguins Trade Bait: Prospects & Picks Included

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Pittsburgh Penguins Justin Schultz

The rumblings and the speculation are ramping up and will soon reach a fever pitch. The Pittsburgh Penguins, who have perhaps been a winger short of a truly stacked roster, now feel they need a winger to maintain the impressive gains of the first-half, and to make another great chase of the Stanley Cup. The Penguins could fill lineup holes, but who makes the list of the Penguins trade bait?

The Penguins team has earned Penguins GM Jim Rutherford’s best effort to complete the roster for a Cup run. Through remarkable adversity born of a never-ending string of injuries, the Penguins surged to a 31-14-5 record, which is the fourth-best in the NHL and third-best in the Eastern Conference.

Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang have three rings. Another handful of players, coaches, and GM Jim Rutherford have two Penguins Stanley Cup championships. A fourth for the Penguins core would put them among the pantheon of great teams, as if Rutherford needed additional motivation to go for it.

Recent Stanley Cup winners have not made big splashes at the trade deadline, but recent Cup winners haven’t experienced the loss of their top-line winger and leading goal scorer, as the Penguins did with Jake Guentzel.

Penguins Trade Bait:

Nick Bjugstad

Bjugstad wasn’t on the list until injuries decimated the Penguins, and Jared McCann filled in as the second or third-line center. McCann wasn’t an immediate hit as a center, but as he acclimated back to the middle, the Penguins’ belief that he was more than capable was confirmed.

Bjugstad is a quietly effective third-line center. He’s a swift skater with a long wingspan. He can work the wall and pressures the puck well on both the forecheck and backcheck, but he’s a painfully low percentage shooter. Bjugstad is a reliable, 40-point center who could be a 50+ point producer if his shooting percentage rose above 8%.

Bjugstad has value. He won’t net a top-six winger, but he could help the Penguins avoid giving up a first-round pick for a winger who isn’t a rental. A team with a need for a pivot with contract-term could do well to snag the big Minnesota native. Ahem.

Conversely, the Penguins could also do well to keep Bjugstad, which would allow McCann to stay on the left-wing.

First Round Pick

Take a deep breath. Swallow hard. Big gulp. And the Penguins could deal away part of the future if Rutherford feels the Penguins trade would get them a winger able to score goals.

The Penguins currently would pick within the last five picks of the first round, which adds some salve to the wound of giving up another first-rounder. Last year, Sam Poulin was the first first-rounder in Jim Rutherford’s five-year Penguins tenure. The pick is unlikely to be swapped for a rental player, but we’re about to learn how much Rutherford values this season against the future.

Casey DeSmith

DeSmith, 28, thought he earned an NHL spot with the Penguins after his second stellar season and a three-year contract worth over $1 million per season. He put down roots in Pittsburgh, but this season has been a lesson on the business side of the game. The Penguins salary cap issues and DeSmith’s higher likelihood to pass through waivers meant the Penguins kept Tristan Jarry as the backup goalie.

Then Jarry planted a flag with an All-Star first half. There are a handful of teams who need a backup goalie. DeSmith may not be a front-burner candidate, but he could provide precisely what a team needs. In 50 NHL games, DeSmith has a respectable .917 save percentage.

Behind a lesser defense with the WBS Penguins, DeSmith’s numbers don’t equal the reports of his play. He has a .903 save percentage in the AHL this season.

PO Joseph

Joseph, 20, is arguably the Penguins top defenseman prospect, though Calen Addison made a splash at the World Junior Championships. Joseph was part of the return of the Phil Kessel Penguins trade. He’s a slick skater and puck mover. He earned mixed reviews coming from juniors, but rave reviews from WBS coach Mike Vellucci during training camp.

A 20-year-old defenseman with wheels and potential, who was a recent first-round pick could be an attractive part of a deal.

Also, Addison could be on the list, and other teams will undoubtedly ask, but Addison is a valuable commodity. It may be an easier decision for Rutherford to trade a late first-round pick than Addison.

Emil Larmi

The Finnish Elite League champion goalie has struggled in his first North American season. Smaller rinks and the AHL competition were a chore. After a rough seven-game start in the AHL, Larmi was sent to Wheeling of the ECHL to get his feet wet. In seven ECHL games, Larmi posted a .941 save percentage.

PHN has learned Larmi, 23, is on the radar of other teams around the league. His value is not great, but he is an intriguing prospect who could be an NHL goalie in a couple of years. Read PHN’s breakdown of Larmi from the Rookie Challenge.

Alex Galchenyuk

His value is at an all-time low. The Penguins need to deal Galchenyuk for the salary cap space and should trade the player for the betterment of both. It just hasn’t worked in Pittsburgh. The Penguins will get a mid-round pick for the winger with four goals this season.

Galchenyuk isn’t Penguins trade bait as much as extra weight.

Wildcard: Justin Schultz

The Penguins top-four defenseman, who will be a UFA, will be a sought after rental who could bring a solid return. It doesn’t seem likely that Schultz could be dealt, but rookie John Marino has been just a dandy in Schultz’s spot on the second pair.

After a 51-point season in 2016-17, Schultz has just 50 points over the last three seasons and just 119 games played.

It must be a little bit tempting if the Penguins need an additional asset to flip, or another team, say the Winnipeg Jets who have forward depth but desperately need a  D-man, calls with a solid offer.

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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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Dan
Dan
2 years ago

I believe Schultz should be in play…keep the first pick…strong draft year…saw WBS last two games…you can have Joseph Lizotte is a better player…AND you can’t trade Addison

Eric Bouchard
Eric Bouchard
2 years ago

I agree with almost all of your list. I really dont think Poulin will or should be on that list. Shultz as to be. Last year of his contract. I dont see the Penguins giving him a new contract longer term and more cap hit . It doesnt make sense. He did have some good moments. But VERY fragile athlete. Better try abd have something in return before he goes on UFA market this summer. -Chucky -Shultz -DeSmith -Bjugstad Take all big chunks of that cap space. Maybe too much for what they bring. Simon could be a throw in… Read more »

Alex
Alex
2 years ago

Schultz should be gone and a new RHD brought in for Gally, Buffalo perhaps for Miller, and then schultz can help net a new winger, i think keep Bjuds, hopefully zucker is brought in
Zucker-Sid-Horny
McCann-Malkin-Rust
Simon-Bujds-Kahun/Lafferty/Agazzino/Trade
Tanev-Bluger-ZAR

Dumo-Tang
Petterson-Marino
JJ/Trade-Miller

Gally gets shipped for Miller, Schultz goes for a bottom six FW and/or picks/prospects, a package put together for Zucker around Gally/Lafferty, if JJ starts to falter on the third pair look for a cheap replacement and when Jake returns in the playoffs look out.

Alex
Alex
2 years ago
Reply to  Alex

would also like athanasiou if Zucker costs too much as he should be cheaper and could definitely fit the team and be rejuvenated, or even Toffoli

Dan
Dan
2 years ago

Ok I’ll take a stab..Schulz to Winnipeg for a number 2 DeSmith to Florida for a 3..Now you’ve got pieces…Next a 2 and a 3 to LA for Toffoli and Gallys contract…Then Bjugstad to Minny for Zucker…still keeping the first and prospects…JR seems to like the Defense but….the Borowiecki kid from Ottawa is a warrior and would ate bite to their backend…OK just an opinion…don’t shoot the messenger

Terrance P O'Toole
Terrance P O'Toole
2 years ago
Reply to  Dan

There is no way Minnesota would do that deal unless we’re adding

Retired Ed
Retired Ed
2 years ago

Don’t trade away the future, look at the Marino surprise. Crosby and Malkin have become average players, it’s time to look for that next great prospect.

pmms12585
pmms12585
2 years ago

Unless the Pens get someone on a McCann/Kahun level as a winger, I don’t think they should think about trading Bjugstad as they’ll need McCann to play on the wing without Guentzel in the lineup. And even then, I would prefer to play McCann on the wing to take advantage of his blazing speed on the forecheck and to keep Bjugstad’s defensive and possession game on the third line with his bash brother Hornqvist. I also don’t like the idea of dealing Schultz unless the Pens can conceivably get a defensive upgrade at 2RD or 3RD to replace him. And… Read more »

The Binker
The Binker
2 years ago

GMJR should inquire about Byfuglien (if healthy) before the deadline. There are a lot of ifs about Byfuglien right now, but it’s quite possible that he will return next month and not with the Jets. There’s bad blood there and the Jets need a center in the worst way. An offer of Bjugstad and Johnson/Schultz would be a good place to start. Byfuglien is signed through next season at $7.6 mill. Can you imagine Big Buff in a top four role on the back line? He would provide a physical presence that’s sorely needed — hellooooo, Tom Wilson! — not… Read more »

Ed
Ed
2 years ago
Reply to  The Binker

IS that not what they tried to do with Reeves and the Alex guy whom they traded both, dont get me wrong Byf would look awesome in a Penns jersey, I really like Rachelle or Tyler Toiffie (cant spell it) or Krieder

Hatrick Pornqvist
Hatrick Pornqvist
2 years ago
Reply to  Dan Kingerski

I’d like Rickard Rakell, a young woman’s erotic journey from Milan to Minsk. Spice it up a bit. My absolute favourite idea is still Kreider. That size and speed would be a perfect marriage for Sid. I’d leave the D as is because there’s a ton of depth there and I’d like to keep it that way for a cup run. Think about these 3 pairs: Dumo-Letang Pettersson-Marino Johnson-Schultz All three can be very effective. Yeah the “third” pairing is expensive but money isn’t an issue this year so it’s a fantastic luxury to have and they can eat minutes… Read more »

The Binker
The Binker
2 years ago
Reply to  Ed

Here’s the difference between the two: Byfuglien can actually play the game.

E.J.
E.J.
2 years ago
Reply to  The Binker

Add bonus to a Buff trade: McCann move back to center where he belongs.

Then package Galchenyuk and a second/third-rounder for a top six winger.

E.J.
E.J.
2 years ago

Would not trade a No. 1 pick for a Kreider unless there’s some assurance that he would seriously consider the Pens as a free agent after the season.

Eric Bouchard
Eric Bouchard
2 years ago

What about a guy like Josh Anderson? (big strong 6’3 222 pounds right winger.. He can skate. And score goals. Brings grit that the Pens will need to go thru Bos, Was etc .??? Kreider will be very expensive for a rental. Zucker could fit of course. B. Saad could be expensive too. (And maybe ask Chicago to retain some salary) Rickard Rakell or Ondrej Kase, or maybe a Jacob Silverberg. (i know the Penguins liked him a lot) Athanasiou . Great speed. 20 goals scorer. Fragile athlete….. Namestnikov could be less expensive. (another one thet GMJR likes a lot)… Read more »

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