Once again the penguins are looking to be major players during the NHL trade deadline. They have already been linked to big names such as Dougie Hamilton, Michael Ferland, and Wayne Simmonds. Some recent comments to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from GM Jim Rutherford further suggests that the pens will make a big move to put themselves over the top.
“By having Casey signed now, this gives us more options going forward, possibly even prior to the deadline,” Rutherford told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Sunday. “I like the idea that we have some depth there, preparing for the playoffs, but sometimes something comes along that you have to consider and maybe do earlier than you want.”
With this in mind, lets take a look who the penguins could use as trade bait to make a big splash at the deadline in their quest for their third cup in four years.
- Tristan Jarry: Jarry was once a premier goalie prospect. Many believed he was the next goalie after Marc-Andre Fleury, that is until the emergence of Matt Murray. Over the course of the last two seasons, Jarry was also passed up by Casey Desmith who is now the full-time backup. He is also having a down season in Wilkes-Barre with a 2.77 goals against average and a .910 save percentage in 21 games. Combine all of the things stated above with the fact that this is his last season before he has to clear waivers, it is clear that Jarry will be traded sometime in the near future.
- Derick Brassard: Every penguins fan can tell you what a major disappointment Brassard has been since Rutherford made the move to acquire him at last year’s deadline. In 50 games with the penguins, he has a measly 10 goals, 11 assists, for a total of 21 points while being a -4. Some teams that could look to trade for Brassard include Boston, Anaheim, and Winnipeg who came really close to acquiring him last year.
- Jamie Oleksiak: Oleksiak is someone who I don’t think Rutherford necessarily wants to trade but may end up having to. Once Justin Schultz returns from injury, which is very soon, there will be nine NHL defensemen on the roster. “We’re going to have nine defensemen at some point,” Rutherford said. “I like the fact that we have nine, and I like our nine defensemen. But it would be hard to believe that we would be able to carry nine when everybody is healthy. It’s tough with eight trying to keep guys getting some ice time and getting some games. So, yeah, we’re watching that situation.” One reason Oleksiak may be the defenseman shipped out is his cap hit. He is set to make $2.1 million the next two seasons.
- Olli Maatta: Another player that could fall victim to overpopulation, Maatta would bring in a much better return than Oleksiak. While he hasn’t been the same since his rookie season, which can be blamed on multiple unfortunate injuries and other circumstances, Maatta is still a really good defenseman contrary to many fans beliefs. At the age of 24 he already has six season under his belt to go along with two Stanley Cups. There is a lot of teams who would kill to have him in their top four.
The first three have a very good chance at being trade, with Oleksiak being most likely. Maatta is more of a long shot but could happen if the right deal comes along.
Rutherford should be looking get a top 6 left wing that could mesh with Evgeni Malkin. Simon has been decent in that spot but someone like Michael Ferland would work better with Malkin. Another move Rutherford could make is upgrading the third line center. As stated before Brassard has been terrible as a penguins and upgrading that spot would help take off the pressure of Crosby’s line. The last move that could be made is getting a young, decent goalie prospect. The only prospect the penguins have is Alex D’orio and he is nothing special.
This trade deadline could get interesting.