Welcome to the Pittsburgh Penguins’ 2022 Offseason Trade Targets series where I’ll examine some potential trade candidates across the NHL. It could be a minor move or perhaps a blockbuster deal, no transaction is too small or too big to consider. We’ve seen Penguins general manager (GM) Ron Hextall make a number of deals so far this offseason and that’s likely to continue as Hextall continues to put his fingerprints on the Pens roster.
For our opening act, let’s head out to western Canada and more specifically to showcase the Calgary Flames, who appear to be headed in the wrong direction after losing Johnny Gaudreau and with the recent news Matthew Tkachuk won’t be re-signing. Here’s some candidates to consider for the Penguins to add this offseason:
Well, you saw this one coming I hope? Tkachuk is someone I’ve circled for Pittsburgh for over a year now and while the Penguins didn’t make his apparent list of preferred destinations, they still should be considered a potential long shot in the trade discussions.
First off, the money would need to work of course, as the pending restricted free agent forward is due at least $8 million for next season. The good news here is the Penguins have over $23 million in cap space coming next summer. Plenty of room to add Tkachuk to the mix, along with the core who are all signed long term thanks to some savvy work from the Penguins GM.
Currently, Pittsburgh sits with just over $2.7 million in cap space and still has Kasperi Kapanen to sign. The restricted free agent is likely looking at a contract around $1.75-2.25 million for next season. If a Tkachuk deal materializes, it’s likely a player like Kapanen could be included.
Other Penguins to consider in this trade are Marcus Pettersson, just based on salary alone, but also a slew of Pittsburgh youngsters including Samuel Poulin, P.O. Joseph, Filip Hallander, and even their recent first-round pick Owen Pickering. Make no mistake about it, the Penguins offer would be very “futures” based and likely takes them out of the running in the Tkachuk sweepstakes.
If the Penguins want to upgrade from Jason Zucker on the team’s second line, adding someone like Blake Coleman would go a long way. He’s a workhorse who loves to throw his weight around as he finished last season with 163 hits. A number that would have ranked him third on the Penguins.
Coleman holds no-trade protection; however, usually when you call players to ask if they’d like to play with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, it goes over well. The Flames forward is signed long term to a reasonable cap hit at $4.9 million and is coming off a season where he recorded 16 goals and 33 points, his first season with the Flames.
The 30-year-old has shown he’s capable of playing all over the lineup and thrived with the Tampa Bay Lightning in a checking role for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He’d be an interesting fit for the Penguins and if the Flames are tanking like they should be as their two best players are about to skip town, Pittsburgh may be able to entice Calgary with a couple of prospects and a second-round pick.
Someone Hextall knows very well, Tyler Toffoli makes sense as a potential target for the Penguins. He can play either wing and has shown the ability to score when it matters most. Toffoli could be great with either Jeff Carter or Malkin and would supply head coach Mike Sullivan with a nice complementary piece to provide secondary scoring.
Toffoli holds no-trade protection and can be moved at will. He’s coming off a season where he produced 11 goals and 23 points in 37 games for the Flames, this coming after a deal from the Montreal Canadiens. With Calgary expected to change their direction of their franchise and no longer in the mix as a contender in the Western Conference, Toffoli has become a prime trade candidate.
The Flames would likely settle for a second-round draft pick, roster player and a solid prospect in the deal, as Penguins speedster Kapanen could be a fit here. If there’s anyone on the Flames’ roster that makes sense for Pittsburgh, Toffoli may be at the top of the list.