The NHL Draft is coming up this weekend in Dallas. Jim Rutherford is still the GM for the Penguins. Put those two things together and usually a trade is on the horizon.
Recently, Rutherford has expressed a desire to deepen the lineup again and to re-energize the team. The Penguins have a whole host of players that they may want to trade, but it takes two parties to make a deal and other teams may not find some assets appealing for various reasons.
Let’s go through some players rumored to be on the move and handicap the percentage they may be moved.
No sugar coating it. Letang had an awful season, aside from a flash of brilliance in January when the whole team was firing on all cylinders.
But his injury history is extensive and he’s expensive. Letang’s current performance isn’t worth $7.25M, especially for four seasons to come. I don’t see any team willing to roll the dice on him for that term. Hopefully with an offseason of rest and proper training, he can come back strong.
Chance of trade — <5%
Earlier this week, Phil Kessel said he “wouldn’t mind if he was traded” from the Penguins. Whether you choose to believe there is a spat between Kessel and Sullivan, it’s clear that everything is not 100% sunshine and lollipops.
But Kessel, even if frustrating, is a unique and consistent offensive asset. He’s coming off a career-high 92 points and is pretty much a lock for between 25 and 30 goals consistently. Winning cures all and I think the Pens can cater enough to Kessel to keep him content (i.e. let him play with Malkin).
Kessel’s $6.8M for the next four seasons will probably turn a few teams off. I can’t see a trade happening this offseason, but I think next offseason could be in play for both sides to move on when the term is shorter.
Chance of trade — 20%
Rust was reportedly dangled in the Max Domi talks with Arizona, so his name is definitely out there. The restricted free agent would be an appealing asset to many teams, especially since he’ll probably sign for around a $3M AAV eventually.
Rust can play both wings, kills penalties, and can get a little power play time. He’s gritty and can skate well. I personally would not trade him, but you have to give to get sometimes.
The downside for Rust, both for the Pens and for suitors, is that he’s injury prone and has yet to play more than 70 games in a NHL season.
Chance of trade — 25%
I’ll preface this by saying I’m not a huge Hagelin fan. Yes, he has blazing speed and he’s a great penalty killer. But his lack of finishing ability is frustrating and I just think there can be better options.
His 1 year/$4M remaining cap hit is very appealing to teams looking for a short term upgrade to their team speed and penalty killing. He’s a quality player, but I just find him confounding at times.
Hagelin’s $4M cap hit can be re-allocated in a wide variety of ways for the Pens.
Chance of trade — 33%
This is purely being included if Rutherford is looking to make a big move. Jarry can be a very appealing trade asset to a team looking for a potential #1 goalie. A team like Buffalo, with ex-Penguins assistant GM Jason Botterill as their GM, would be an interesting fit. So would Carolina with their plethora of young players, an interest to shake up the team, and a hungry new owner.
With Matt Murray under contract for two more seasons and then in line to sign another deal, plus Casey DeSmith a capable backup next year, room in Pittsburgh is sparse on the horizon for Jarry.
Chance of trade — 40%
I don’t really understand what Sheary brings to the table that already isn’t replicated by multiple players on the team. He’s fast, but there are faster players. He can score, but he’s streaky and not that great enough to justify the down times. He doesn’t kill penalties.
But Sheary is relatively cheap at $3M AAV for the next two seasons, so a team looking to add some goals at a low’ish cost may take a flyer on him.
I’m sure Rutherford is trying hard to move Sheary and he would be the guy I’d be looking to move the most, as well.
Chance of trade — 50%