The Pittsburgh Penguins could very well be done making moves going into the season. The roster seems set after free agency but Jim Rutherford is in on almost anything around the league. It’s why there’s the potential for him to make a trade before the season starts. Rutherford said himself at his free agency press conference that if something comes around that they like, they’ll listen on it and potentially pull the trigger on it. Here are a couple players that Rutherford could look to add via trade if he feels the deal is right.
Will Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford Make a Big Trade?
Jeff Skinner is a player who Rutherford knows very well from his days in Carolina. He drafted him while he was there and Skinner is now going into the final year of his contract. His name has been out in trade rumours all summer and it seems to be only a matter of time before he will be dealt. Josh Yohe of The Athletic confirmed that the Penguins would like to add him and that they have made an offer, but it was not good enough.
Carolina is making some changes as they have not made the playoffs since 2009. A new owner has come in with a new general manager and a new head coach as they look to take the next step. Skinner is a player they would like to get a nice return for as he’s still a very good goal scorer. Skinner had 24 goals and 49 points last season just after he had a 37 goal season in 2016-17. Skinner would improve the Penguins left wing drastically if the Penguins can swing a trade for him.
Trading for Max Pacioretty is less likely than trading for Skinner but nobody ever knows with Jim Rutherford. He always loves to swing for the fences with these kinds of deals. Pacioretty is not going to be getting an extension with the Montreal Canadiens and therefore, he will likely be traded at some point. Whether its now or at the NHL trade deadline, Pacioretty will not finish the year in Montreal. Pacioretty would also make a lot of sense since he’s a left winger but Pittsburgh would have to try and get him to sign him to an extension. It would be hard to do though since winger Jake Guentzel will have a new contract next year and Matt Murray won’t be far behind.
As far as what they’d have to give up, it would potentially center around center Derick Brassard who also has one year left on his deal. But would the Canadiens do that? He’d be likely just a rental and Montreal would want more young future assets in return for one of their best players. It would be unlikely Pittsburgh would deal Daniel Sprong who will be on the opening night roster this coming season and after that, there’s no big forward prospect the Penguins have that Montreal would want.
Making a deal with Montreal would be harder than making a deal with Carolina just based off Montreal would likely want more in return for Pacioretty. Pacioretty has been one of the premier left wingers in hockey throughout his career and has five 30-goal seasons on his resume. Both would be outstanding fits with the Penguins and would strengthen their title hopes for this season, but will the Penguins pay up to get one of them? That’s the question Rutherford will be asking himself if he’s in these discussions throughout the summer.
PITTSBURGH, PA – JANUARY 23: Carolina Hurricanes Left Wing Jeff Skinner (53) skates with the puck during the third period in the NHL game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Carolina Hurricanes on January 23, 2018, at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, PA. The Penguins defeated the Hurricanes 3-1. (Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)