The Pittsburgh Penguins trade options have found themselves at the center of quite a few trade rumours. The team floundered in the postseason where the New York Islanders unmercifully swept them. But the Pens woes didn’t start in April. More often than not in the 2018-19 season Pittsburgh looked like a haphazard plight.
Now that the team is relegated to the greens of the golf course, one big question is on everyone’s mind. Is a significant roster shake-up on the horizon? The chatter surrounding some of the organization’s cornerstone players is heating up, and as the trade rumours gain steam, it’s hard not to wonder if they’re gaining some validity too.
The Penguins Trade Options Rumour Mill is Heating Up
The rumour mill is churning out some familiar names in Pittsburgh. Phil Kessel, Kris Letang, or even Evgeni Malkin could find themselves rocking colours other than black and gold come next season. These possibilities beg the question, does it make sense to move a noteworthy player? The team spent a large part of the season searching for a spark to ignite their lackluster gang. While the consensus is that a big move needs to be made to light that fire, who should be cut loose is more complicated to answer. It’s hard to imagine the Penguins without the likes of Letang or Malkin. Though he’s not a lifer, Kessel is a huge piece of the team as well. These guys are core parts of the franchise.
Letang Hate is Jarring
Letang should not be on the chopping block. The defenceman took an undeserved beating from fans and the media this past year. You can argue that his mistakes are glaring, but more often than not he was playing some amazing hockey.
At one point Letang was a sure candidate for the Norris Trophy. He is vital to the Pens power play, which struggled throughout the season. 19 of Letangs 56 points came during a powerplay. He tied with Malkin and Sidney Crosby in powerplay assists with 17. The trio fell behind Kessel who is first with 24. Letang would fetch the biggest return, but losing him is not worth whatever the gain would be.
Pens Without Kessel is a Real Possibility
Kessel topped TSN’s Trade Bait board after rumblings that he would be the prime candidate to be moved. After a reportedly tense season in the locker room, the Kessel era could be up in Pittsburgh. The problem with that idea is his partial no-trade clause. If the narrative is true and Kessel is unhappy behind the scenes, there could be some wiggle room. But that’s a BIG “if”. Parting ways with the winger is the more probable scenario of the three on the table for the Penguins.
Malkin Isn’t Going Anywhere
The least likely of the group to find himself sporting new threads next year is Malkin. No one in their right mind can envision the team splitting up the dynamic duo of Crosby and Malkin. However, he did have a relatively quiet season. This was the third lowest scoring year for the forward. His shooting percentage noticeably dropped from 16-17% the past two seasons, down to 11.2%.
Perhaps the talk of negativity in the locker room does hold water? Picturing the Penguins sans Malkin is almost unimaginable. The center is no stranger to trade rumours, but anything materializing from them is far fetched at best.
The Penguins undoubtedly have some big decisions to make during the off-season. A roster shake-up is inevitable. Removing an integral cog to the wheel of the Penguins machine might not be the most desirable solution to the problem, but it certainly could produce the result the team is searching for.