NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – Pittsburgh Penguins
Check out the recent Canucks, Penguins, and Red Wings’ speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.
NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien believes the Vancouver Canucks need a lot of help on defense. He also pointed out they’re top-heavy on offense. Starting goalie Jacob Markstrom is an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, while backup Thatcher Demko is only signed through next season.
O’Brien believes general manager Jim Benning will try to use the draft and the trade market to bolster the supporting cast around Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, and Quinn Hughes. He also wondered if they’ll break the bank to re-sign pending UFA winger Tyler Toffoli or sign 30-year-old pending free agent blueliner Chris Tanev to a risky contract.
THE ATHLETIC: Harman Dayal and Thomas Drance think Tanev, Jordie Benn, and Sven Baertschi are the Canucks most likely to move on. Moving Benn and Baertschi would free up valuable salary-cap space. They also suggest Brandon Sutter could be a realistic ordinary course buyout candidate. Moving veteran winger Loui Eriksson ($6 million annual average value through 2021-22) could be difficult, while it’s uncertain if the Canucks can re-sign Toffoli.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Considering how the Canucks struggled when Markstrom was sidelined by a knee injury, re-signing him should be their priority, followed by boosting their blueline corps. With over $63.4 million invested in 14 players for 2020-21, they’ll have around $18 million to work with if the cap remains at $81.5 million next season. There’s enough to re-sign Markstrom, but it will cut deeply into their available payroll.
A couple of cost-cutting moves will help, but finding a suitable deal under a flat cap won’t be easy. It’ll certainly make the chances of moving Eriksson more difficult, even with his actual total remaining salary dropping to $5 million after his signing bonus is paid out on July 1. A compliance buyout would help here, but there’s no certainty the league and the NHLPA will implement that measure in the off-season.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Seth Rorabaugh recently examined the Pittsburgh Penguins’ free agents. He feels it wouldn’t be unreasonable for RFA goalie Matt Murray to seek a hefty contract extension comparable to Tampa Bay’s Andrej Vasilevskiy ($9.5 million AAV) or Winnipeg’s Connor Hellebuyck ($6.16 million AAV) because he’s had better postseason success. However, it’s also not unreasonable for the Penguins to consider a more affordable option such as re-signing fellow RFA Tristan Jarry.
Rorabaugh doesn’t expect UFA winger Patrick Marleau to return to the Penguins after this season. Justin Schultz‘s difficult 2019-20 season and the emergence of rookie defenseman John Marino likely signals the end of his tenure in Pittsburgh. Rorabaugh doesn’t rule out the Pens re-signing Conor Sheary if the price is right.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins have over $68.2 million tied up in 15 players for next season. It’ll be interesting to see what the Penguins do with Murray and Jarry.
Ideally, GM Jim Rutherford would probably sign both to short-term contracts and take more time to evaluate their performances before settling on which one should be their starter. With both goalies carrying arbitration rights, that might be possible, but all concerned might prefer avoiding that route. If they have to part with one or the other, Casey DeSmith is ready and able to step into the backup position.
DETROIT FREE PRESS: Helene St. James reports acquiring a new starting goaltender is among the off-season tasks facing Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman. The Washington Capitals’ Braden Holtby is the best of this summer’s UFA goalies, but St. James believes he’d be reluctant to join a rebuilding club like the Wings.
More realistic options could include the Calgary Flames’ Cam Talbot, the Boston Bruins’ Jaroslav Halak, the Dallas Stars’ Anton Khudobin, the New York Islanders’ Thomas Greiss, and the Vancouver Canucks’ Jacob Markstrom.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Talbot and Markstrom have more recent starter experience. Halak, Khudobin, and Greiss are better backup options for clubs with a skilled starter. The Wings have plenty of salary-cap room ($46.2 million committed to 11 players) to make a substantial bid for one of them. Whether they’ll accept it, or if Yzerman intends to go the UFA route to boost his goaltending, remains to be seen.
New York Rangers re-sign Chris Kreider to a seven-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $6.5 million
Not a trade, but Kreider was considered the top trade bait entering deadline day. Reports out of New York this morning suggested he was likely to be moved. The Rangers bent on the term, as they reportedly offered a six-year deal. Perhaps the Kreider camp gave a little on the dollars. The 28-year-old left-winger gets the long-term deal to stay put, but time will tell if this deal pans out over the long term for the Blueshirts.
New York Islanders acquire center Jean-Gabriel Pageau
The Islanders address a glaring need on their forward lines with Pageau, a skilled two-way player who can skate at center or on the wing. They overpaid to get him, sending a conditional first-round pick in 2020, a 2020 second-rounder, and a conditional third in 2022 to the Ottawa Senators. That was offset by re-signing Pageau to a six-year, $30-million contract extension. The rebuilding Senators got a fine return, leaving them with potentially 13 picks in the 2020 Draft, with nine of those in the first three rounds.
The Hurricanes shored up their banged-up blueline by parting with a first-round pick for Skjei and shipping forward Janne Kuokkanen and a conditional second-round pick to the Devils for Vatanen. With Dougie Hamilton out for several more weeks with a broken leg and Brett Pesce sidelined by an upper-body injury, Skjei and Vatanen should help fill the gaps.
Florida Panthers trade Vincent Trocheck to the Carolina Hurricanes
The Panthers were rumored for weeks to be in the market for a top-four defenseman and Trocheck recently surfaced as a trade candidate. Instead, they swap him for checking-line forwards Erik Haula and Lucas Wallmark plus two prospects. Trocheck, meanwhile, should provide the Hurricanes with some welcome depth at center.
Vegas Golden Knights acquire goaltender Robin Lehner
Big pickup there for the Golden Knights, shipping Malcolm Subban, a prospect and a second-round pick to the Chicago Blackhawks for a 2019 Vezina Trophy finalist. Lehner will share the duties with starter Marc-Andre Fleury, providing Vegas with a solid one-two punch between the pipes.
Pittsburgh Penguins acquire forwards Patrick Marleau, Conor Sheary and Evan Rodrigues
Penguins GM Jim Rutherford made a significant move earlier this month by acquiring Jason Zucker from Minnesota. He wasn’t done tinkering with his forward lines, bringing in three key playoff rentals. They got Marleau for the San Jose Sharks for a conditional third-rounder and shipped center Dominik Kahun to the Buffalo Sabres for winger Conor Sheary and Evan Rodrigues. In the twilight of his career, Marleau gets a final shot at winning the Stanley Cup. It’s Sheary’s second go-around with the Penguins, winning Cups with them in 2016 and 2017. Rodrigues had requested a trade from the Sabres earlier in the season.
Edmonton Oilers deal for winger Andreas Athanasiou
The Oilers sent Sam Gagner and two second-round picks to the Detroit Red Wings for one of the fastest players in the league in Athanasiou, prompting speculation he’ll become a new linemate for Connor McDavid. If those two mesh well together, Athanasiou will regain the 30-goal form that he’s been lacking this season. Failing that, perhaps he’ll be a better fit on their second line with either Leon Draisaitl or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. The Oilers also acquired winger Tyler Ennis from the Ottawa Senators and defenseman Mke Green from the Red Wings.
Calgary Flames bring in Erik Gustafsson and Derek Forbort
With Mark Giordano and Travis Hamonic still sidelined, the Flames sent a third-round pick in 2020 to the Chicago Blackhawks for Gustafsson and a conditional fourth in 2021 to the Los Angeles Kings for Forbort. Gustafsson is a mobile blueliner and Forbort will bring a physical edge to the Flames defense corps.
Buffalo Sabres acquire winger Wayne Simmonds
The Sabres sent a fifth-rounder in 2021 to the New Jersey Devils for Simmonds. He’ll provide leadership and experience, but won’t address their ongoing need for a scorer. At least they didn’t pay much to get him, plus the Devils picked up half of his $5-million salary-cap hit.
Boston Bruins trade winger Danton Heinen to the Anaheim Ducks for Nick Ritchie
This is a swap of two young forwards who needed a change of scenery. Ritchie was the Ducks first-round pick (10th overall) in 2014 but struggled to play up to expectations as a power forward. Heinen had a promising rookie performance (47 points) in 2017-18, but his production has eroded since then.
Colorado Avalanche land Vladislav Namestnikov
With their forward lines depleted by injuries, the Avs sent a 202 fourth-rounder to the Ottawa Senators for the versatile Namestnikov. The 27-year-old is a solid two-way forward who can skate at center or on the wing. He should fit in well on their checking lines.
Philadelphia Flyers add Derek Grant and Nate Thompson
The Flyers had an interest in Jean-Gabriel Pageau before the Senators shipped him to the Islanders. They instead went a more affordable route, sending a minor-league forward and a 2020 fourth-rounder to the Anaheim Ducks for Grant, and a 2021 fifth-rounder to the Montreal Canadiens for Nate Thompson. The two veterans will provide the Flyers with experienced depth up the middle.
Vancouver Canucks acquire Louis Domingue
With starting goalie Jacob Markstrom sidelined indefinitely with a knee injury, the Canucks sent minor-league goalie Zane McIntyre to the Devils for Domingue. He’ll split the duties with Thatcher Demko and should provide some additional insurance once Markstrom returns.
The NHL Trade Deadline is 3 pm ET today. This listing will be updated regularly throughout the day until all trade activity is complete.
Anaheim Ducks trade defenseman Korbinian Holzer to the Nashville Predators for defenseman Matt Irwin.
Washington Capitals trade defenseman Christian Djoos to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for Daniel Sprong.
Montreal Canadiens trade Nick Cousins to the Vegas Golden Knights. Details to follow…
New Jersey Devils trade goaltender Louis Domingue to the Vancouver Canucks in exhange for goalie Zane McIntyre
Tampa Bay Lightning acquire Barclay Goodrow from the San Jose Sharks for a first-round pick.
New York Rangers traded defenseman Brady Skjei to the Carolina Hurricanes for the Hurricanes’ first-round pick in 2020.
Vegas Golden Knights acquired goaltender Robin Lehner from the Chicago Blackhawks for Malcolm Subban, Slava Demin and a 2nd round pick.
New Jersey Devils trade defenseman Sami Vatanen to the Carolina Hurricanes for winger Janne Kuokkanen and a second-round pick.
Buffalo Sabres trade Conor Sheary and Evan Rodrigues to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Dominik Kahun.
Calgary Flames acquire defenseman Erik Gustafsson from the Chicago Blackhawks for a third-round pick.
Los Angeles Kings ship defenseman Derek Forbort to the Calgary Flames for a fourth-round pick.
Edmonton Oilers trade a fifth-round pick in 2021 to the Ottawa Senators for Tyler Ennis.
Edmonton Oilers acquired Andreas Athanasiou and Ryan Kuffner from the Detroit Red Wings for Sam Gagner, a second-round pick in 2020 and a second-rounder in 2021.
Boston Bruins trade Danton Heinen to the Anaheim Ducks for Nick Ritchie.
Buffalo Sabres acquire winger Wayne Simmonds from the New Jersey Devils for a conditional fifth-rounder in 2021.
Philadelphia Flyers acquire center Derek Grant from the Anaheim Ducks for minor-league center Kyle Crisuolo and a fourth-round pick in 2020.
Toronto Maple Leafs trade goaltender Michael Hutchinson to the Colorado Avalanche for defenseman Calle Rosen.
Pittsburgh Penguins acquire Patrick Marleau from the San Jose Sharks for a conditional third-round pick in 2020. The pick becomes a second-rounder if the Penguins win the Stanley Cup.
Montreal Canadiens trade center Nate Thompson to the Philadelphia Flyers for a fifth-round pick in 2021.
Florida Panthers trade center Vincent Trocheck to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for forwards Erik Haula, Lucas Wallmark and prospects Chase Priskie and Eetu Luostarinen.
New York Islanders acquire center Jean-Gabriel Pageau to the New York Islanders for a first-round pick (lottery protected) in 2020, a second-rounder in 2020, and a third in 2022. There are conditions attached to all picks. The Islanders re-sign him to a six-year contract extension.
Ottawa Senators trade Vladislav Namestnikov to the Colorado Avalanche for a fourth-round pick in the 2021 NHL draft.
Detroit Red Wings trade defenseman Mike Green to the Edmonton Oilers for sidelined forward Kyle Brodziak and a conditional draft pick.
The latest on the Canadiens, Islanders, Flames, Predators, Penguins, and Avalanche in today’s NHL rumor mill.
COULD THE CANADIENS BECOME SELLERS?
SPORTSNET: If the Montreal Canadiens fail to climb back into playoff contention, Elliotte Friedman wonders if general manager Marc Bergevin will move some of his veterans by the Feb. 24 trade deadline.
LE JOURNAL DE MONTREAL: Jean-Francois Chaumont examined Bergevin’s options if he goes into sell mode. The expensive contracts of goaltender Carey Price and defenseman Shea Weber makes them unlikely to be dealt. Weber’s leadership remains invaluable to the Habs.
Tomas Tatar and Jeff Petry are playing well and could fetch solid returns, but Petry’s value to the Habs blueline means it’ll take a significant offer to part with him. Chaumont also speculates Bergevin could listen to offers for Max Domi if the pending RFA proves too expensive to re-sign. It would be surprising if the Habs part ways with winger Artturi Lehkonen.
Chaumont suggests depth players such as Nate Thompson, Nick Cousins, and Brett Kulak could be peddled for draft picks. Recent acquisitions Ilya Kovalchuk and Marco Scandella could also have some value if they play well for the Habs in the coming weeks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens are nine points out of an Eastern Conference wild-card spot. Barring a miraculous turnaround between now and the trade deadline, they’re not going to reach the playoffs this season.
I don’t see Bergevin getting into a massive sell-off of assets but he could put UFAs like Kovalchuk, Scandella, and Thompson on the trade block. Price, Weber, Domi, and Petry aren’t going anywhere. Tatar has a year left on his contract, but Bergevin could gauge his value in the trade market. He’s not shopping any of his promising youngsters.
LATEST ON THE ISLANDERS
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports defenseman Adam Pelech’s season-ending Achilles injury is a huge loss for the New York Islanders.
THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple recently reported Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello was succinct when asked about trade options to replace Pelech. “You don’t replace an Adam Pelech at the trade deadline,” he said.
Nevertheless, Staple speculates Lamoriello may still have to consider adding a veteran blueliner. Options could include San Jose’s Brenden Dillon, New Jersey’s Andy Greene, or Toronto’s Ben Harpur.
Staple also examined how the Islanders could address their scoring drought on the wing. He suggested Ottawa’s Tyler Ennis and Vladislav Namestnikov, Los Angeles’ Tyler Toffoli, Buffalo’s Conor Sheary, and Nashville’s Mikael Granlund as possible trade targets.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lamoriello will assess his roster over the next several weeks to determine if a move or two is necessary. For now, they’re using Noah Dobson as a third-pairing defenseman, while coach Barry Trotz continues juggling his forward lines. If there’s no significant improvement, the Isles GM could enter the trade market in February.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST 31 THOUGHTS
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving has told potential trade partners he prefers players with term on their contract over rentals. If Elias Lindholm stays at center, Treliving will seek a winger. If not, he could go in a different direction.
Friedman also said there’s a sense change is coming to the Flames if they don’t improve. They’re happy with younger players like Rasmus Andersson, Dillon Dube, and Andrew Mangiapane but not as thrilled with some of their top dogs like Johnny Gaudreau.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Treliving wants a player with term, perhaps he’ll look at Chicago Blackhawks winger Brandon Saad once he returns from his recent ankle injury. Friedman recently claimed there’s talk Saad could be available.
If the Flames fail to improve this season, a major change such as moving Gaudreau won’t happen until the offseason. That’s assuming Treliving wants to go that route.
Friedman also reports the Pittsburgh Penguins are in the market for a replacement for sidelined winger Jake Guentzel.
He also reports Nashville Predators GM David Poile could become a seller at the trade deadline if his club fails to gain ground in the standings. Center Kyle Turris has been shopped. Others could include Craig Smith, Mikael Granlund, and perhaps Nick Bonino.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My take on the Predators here.
UPDATE ON THE AVALANCHE
I don’t think the Avs are in on Tyler Toffoli anymore. Not saying it might not still happen, but further talks with sources say it’s not likely
— Adrian Dater (@adater) January 7, 2020
It’s now my belief: Avs will be pretty quiet at the NHL trade deadline — Adrian Dater (@adater) January 7, 2020