Potential Pittsburgh Penguins Trade Targets

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - JANUARY 02: Nick Jensen #3 of the Detroit Red Wings tries to control the puck in front of Elias Lindholm #28 of the Calgary Flames during the first period at Little Caesars Arena on January 02, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

There are only three days until the trade deadline on Monday and while not much action has happened yet, it can start at any time. Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford is one of the most aggressive GM’s in terms of making trades at the deadline. He’s already traded for Jared McCann and Nick Bjugstad. That won’t stop him from making more trades if the right situation comes around, though. Here’s a look at a few Penguins trade targets going into the final days before the deadline.

Pittsburgh Penguins Trade Targets 

Nick Jensen

With Olli Maatta out for about a month with an upper-body injury, it may tempt Rutherford to go out and get a depth defenseman as insurance. One of the defensemen that’s on the market this season is Nick Jensen from the Detroit Red Wings. The Red Wings are in full sell mode again as they’re going to miss the playoffs being at the bottom of the conference. Jensen isn’t going to play in the top four, but he’d work out just fine on a bottom pairing role. His possession this season is right around 50% (49.7) but it’s also on a very bad Detroit team. Offensively, he has two goals and 15 points in 60 games this season. That’s still more points than every defenseman on the Penguins except Kris Letang and Brian Dumoulin. Though, that would include Justin Schultz if he was healthy. Here’s Jensen compared to Jack Johnson this season thanks to Bill Comeau.

As you can see, Jensen’s having a decent season. Johnson probably isn’t going to get scratched, even though he should see some time off. However, Jensen is performing better than him in a bottom pairing role. He’d be a upgrade defensively as well as he doesn’t turn the puck over too much.

Ben Lovejoy

This isn’t likely to please a lot of people but it’s just a gut feeling that Rutherford would go after Ben Lovejoy and give up a mid-round draft pick for him. He acquired Lovejoy in 2015 and won the Stanley Cup in Pittsburgh in 2016. Lovejoy then signed a three-year-deal with the New Jersey Devils. With the Devils out of the playoff race this season, he is likely to be traded as his contract is up after this season.

There would obviously be a lot of familiarity in acquiring Lovejoy. But is it worth it even though Maatta is likely to be back at the end of the season? Lovejoy has two goals and seven points in 51 games this season. He has never been known to drive play, as well. He’s known for being a veteran penalty killer and playing in his own zone on the bottom pairing, which is what he did with Pittsburgh. It would be adding another right-handed defenseman to the lineup as Pittsburgh’s defensive core has a lot of lefties.

The cons outweigh the pros on this one as he just isn’t the same player anymore. Though he’d be an upgrade over Johnson (who wouldn’t?), it’s still best to look at other options as he’d also just be a pure rental.

Alexander Edler

There hadn’t been any rumors about Alexander Edler with the Penguins until Thursday afternoon. Jason Brough of The Athletic and TSN speculated Pittsburgh could be the one to get him in a deal.

This is an interesting situation. Edler would control where he goes as he has a full NMC so he could veto any trade he wanted. But, the Vancouver Canucks are also having extension talks with him at the same time, so this will likely go down to the last minute Monday afternoon. Here’s how he’s been this season.

Edler’s contract is up at the end of the season. Though, the Penguins would potentially be absorbing $5M in cap. Pittsburgh would have some choices to make. Either they could send salary the other way or have the Canucks retain some.

He is a player that has played in the top four his entire career. If they’d acquire him, he’d likely be playing in most, if not all of the rest of Pittsburgh’s games down the stretch and into the playoffs. The Penguins could put him next to Schultz on the second pairing who’s  coming back from injury. Then, at best case scenario with Johnson, he’d play on the bottom-pairing with Marcus Pettersson until Maatta is back and then there would be some decisions to make.

Edler has five goals and 20 points in 38 games for the Canucks this season despite his possession plummeting. This trade is likely a long shot for the Penguins, but Rutherford has an interesting track record. He has often gone for players that are not expected.

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  1. Why would they go for a defenceman, Edler, who’s possession numbers are falling. The Penguins need the opposite. I think they should go big through a blockbuster trade. Go for Mark Stone. Trade Kessel, Pearson and the first round pick for Stone. This will improve the team and possession numbers and I believe the dollars will work as well. Then try to resign him.

  2. Steve….
    I guess NHL18 or whatever game you play is where you came up with your trade scenario?
    Although Melnyk has less hockey sense than EASports AI, Dorion does not.
    Point being there is another GM on the other end who is going to make the best deal for his team and which fits those team needs.
    So why would a rebuilding team who is so cost conscious that they’ve traded Erik Karlsson, Matt Duchene and now Mark Stone (amongst others) rather than pay them want to add 12+ million dollars in 2 players, one of which will be 32 when next season starts, the other who has several years remaining on a 4.5 million albatross contract that he doesn’t come close to living up to?
    And Pitt. Why would they trade Kessel (and the 1st for that matter) who has been great for The Pens, a consistent offensive threat, (yes I know he’s in a slump …wrong reason to trade him) proven to mesh with Geno, yada yada a million other ways he has had a positive impact on the Pens, for a guy you can’t re-sign, not assuring yourself of chemistry or a cup and thus only assuring your team starts next season without Stone OR the only guy on the team outside of Sid/Geno who has been a consistent and upper echelon scorer not just on the team but also leaguewide? And that lack of scoring depth is the teams biggest Achilles heel which you have now made into a greater problem (making a bigger hole and a weaker team with that championship window closing quickly) and have to use resources to TRY and fix that when had you not made the trade, you wouldn’t have the problem.
    GMs in a win now mode should be trying to fix holes, not create them. They should strengthen areas of weakness rather than create them. Your trade makes the Pens far, FAR worse moving forward with no guarantee of even improvement in the now. And it actually does the same thing for Ottawa given their team needs and what they’re looking for.
    So congratulations are in order. Ive never seen a proposed deal which not only doesn’t help either team, but is so awful that it actually sabotages each team and the direction they’re wanting to move towards going forward!
    I was actually starting to think it was time to move on from GMJR but you’ve reminded me of the potential alternative and that the grass isn’t, in fact, always greener.


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