The Pittsburgh Penguins trade talks were heavy and discussions were serious enough in late September and the first days of October that at least one player was advised that a deal which would affect his status was close, however, it didn’t materialize. A source close to the Penguins revealed more details to PHN of the near misses which occurred in training camp and again on the eve of the regular season.
The Penguins trade talks fell through before the Penguins injuries mounted and forwards Bryan Rust, Nick Bjugstad, Alex Galchenyuk, and Evgeni Malkin were injured in the first week of the season. The source with direct knowledge of the player discussions admitted the situation with goalie Casey DeSmith’s demotion to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton was not supposed to be long term but it might become so given the circumstances and Tristan Jarry’s play.
PHN has not been told if returning players could reignite the same Penguins trade talks which nearly had at least one deal in early October.
Monday, Penguins forward Bryan Rust said he hoped to be ready by Saturday. He took limited contact in practice, as did center Nick Bjugstad who also returned to practice. Rust signed a four-year contract with a $3.5 million AAV. Bjugstad has two years remaining, including this season, with a $4.1 million cap hit. Alex Galchenyuk also has a salary north of $4 million but it expires after this season.
Galchenyuk and Malkin have begun skating but have not yet practiced with the team and did not make the current road trip.
The Penguins likely have at least a few more weeks before their lineup is at full strength and they must make decisions on players such as defenseman John Marino and forward Sam Lafferty, as both have played exceedingly well. Marino has earned his way into the lineup since being recalled when the Penguins placed Rust on IR, and coaches recently elevated Marino to the Penguins top pairing with Kris Letang. Lafferty has also become a relied upon player. He had two breakaway attempts in the first period, Wednesday night.
Lafferty, Joseph Blandisi and Adam Johnson must be returned to the WBS Penguins as players come off the IR because each was an emergency recall. As the Penguins gain 12 healthy forwards, the emergency rules mandate they be returned. However, Lafferty’s pending demotion may be a quick turnaround as the rookie forward has earned high-leverage ice time and scored five points in the process.
Marino has not yet recorded his first NHL point. Lafferty has five points (3g, 2a) in eight games.