The Pittsburgh Penguins have surprised the NHL this season as the team has battled injuries, inconsistent goaltending and yet are still a juggernaut in the MassMutual East Division. They have a 26-13-2 record as we approach the trade deadline, and general manager Ron Hextall continues to work the phones to find a physical winger and depth centreman.
While fans shouldn’t expect a blockbuster trade from the Penguins before Monday, there are a few trade scenarios that would not only set the team up for success this season, but would also provide some future flexibility. Here are three “dream” trades the Penguins should try their best to complete before the trade deadline.
The Penguins have serious cap issues, not only hindering them from adding a big-name forward this season, but they also have limited cap space next season. Getting Marcus Pettersson off their books would be an ideal situation and something we’ve touched on before. The 24-year-old was signed by former-GM Jim Rutherford to a five-year contract worth over $4 million per season, and quite frankly, he has struggled and is becoming an expensive bottom-pair defenseman.
The Detroit Red Wings might be interested in Pettersson because they have loads of cap space, and they don’t have any defensemen signed past the 2021-22 season. He is still young, and even though he’s struggled to the tune of five points in 32 games this season, he’s still young with upside that might appeal to Detroit GM Steve Yzerman. The Penguins should make this trade and be happy with a return of just a fourth-round draft pick. It would give the team a ton of flexibility moving forward as it would remove over $16 million from their books.
This trade would be extremely hard to pull off, but again these are dream scenarios. Nick Foligno would provide the Penguins with a tough, physical winger and a forward capable of playing center and winning big faceoffs. His versatility is one of his strengths, and when the Penguins get healthy before the playoffs, they could move Foligno down the lineup.
The cost is the problem here, as Rutherford emptied the cupboards of draft picks. The Blue Jackets would want a first-round pick for Foligno, and the Pens don’t have one in this upcoming draft. Hextall likely won’t move any picks from the 2022 Draft, so, unfortunately, this one is just a pipe dream.
We talked about this move in our Trade Deadline Primer show and how his style of game would be the perfect addition for the Penguins’ playoff push:
On Saturday, Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet reported that teams were calling about Ryan Getzlaf’s availability. While there’s the sense that he’s happy on a losing team in Anaheim, bringing Getzlaf to Pittsburgh would be a match made in heaven.
He would be a great option for their third-line center behind Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby, and with all his success in Anaheim and on the world stage, Getzlaf is battle-tested and knows what it takes to win. This trade would take some creativity as the Penguins could use a third team to retain some of his salary. The Chicago Blackhawks and San Jose Sharks have been open to the idea and the Blackhawks have already been active on this front. The Penguins could leverage some of their cap space, move a mid-round pick next season and then send a prospect filled package to Anaheim.
Getzlaf isn’t the player he once was, with 15 points in 36 games this season; however, the Penguins don’t need him to be. He would play a secondary role as a depth addition. “Getzy” knows Crosby and president of hockey operations Brian Burke, so perhaps the team could lean on these relationships to convince him to waive his no-movement clause.
The new management regime in Pittsburgh has had two months to evaluate their team, and now it’s time to execute. They have gone through a ton of adversity and deserve to be awarded. Moving Pettersson and his expensive contract, or adding one of Foligno or Getzlaf would go a long way toward showing that management is trying to “win now.” One can dream, can’t we?