The Pittsburgh Penguins are a team to watch as we approach the March 21 Trade Deadline. Both president of hockey operations Brian Burke and general manager Ron Hextall continue to work the phones as they look to find some creative solutions to upgrade their roster. With a number of pending free agents to worry about and many different avenues to venture within trade talks, one player to keep an eye on is defenseman Marcus Pettersson. Let’s take a look at three teams who could be involved in trade talks for the 25-year-old blueliner:
Burke knows the Calgary Flames very well from his time there and has a great relationship with Flames management. They’ve been rumored to be looking at adding a defenseman and Pettersson is likely someone they would have interest in for a number of reasons.
The former second-round pick of the Anaheim Ducks is signed long-term to a reasonable cap hit of $4.02 million and has enjoyed a bounce-back season after not starting his tenure as a Penguin in an ideal fashion. So far in 54 games in 2021-22 he’s recorded 14 points and is currently averaging 15:54 of ice-time a night. He’s almost reached 100 hits and currently has 53 blocked shots. While Calgary doesn’t have a ton of cap space, they’ve been linked to moving young forward Dillon Dube in a trade for defensive help and he’s a player who could be of interest to the Penguins before the deadline.
Pettersson has a lot of balance to his game and despite playing close to 16 minutes a night, he doesn’t play much on the power play or while shorthanded. At over $4 million on the cap, keeping him in Pittsburgh may not be a smart business decision for the Penguins brass.
After ex-general manager Jim Rutherford traded for Pettersson from the Anaheim Ducks, he went on to sign him to a long-term extension that was questioned by Pittsburgh media. It was a five-year deal at over $20 million total, for a player with limited NHL experience and not necessarily the best numbers. Rutherford now is the president of hockey operations for the Vancouver Canucks and the two teams have been linked to trade talks recently and could facilitate a deal before the deadline.
Two Canucks to watch here would be Brock Boeser and Conor Garland as both wingers have been mentioned in trade rumors with Boeser being the more likely player to be moved because of his expensive qualifying offer for next season. I reported several weeks ago that Boeser should be on the Penguins radar and it appears those talks have only intensified since. While it will take a big package to land the young sniper, expect to see Pettersson included as his contract will help balance out the money. Not to mention, Rutherford absolutely loves his game.
One of the more interesting teams to watch as the deadline creeps closer is the Arizona Coyotes. They continue to discuss blockbuster deals including their young-stud defenseman Jakob Chychrun and while the Penguins don’t appear to be on that level, the Coyotes are going to have to replace some minutes on their blue line. Insert Pettersson and considering he’s only 25 years old, could find himself a new home in the desert for years to come.
Arizona has a number of players who could interest the Penguins including a reunion with Phil Kessel. If I was the Penguins I would consider moving Pettersson for Kessel, as not only would it boost the team’s second line, but it would also allow them to create some serious cap space moving forward. With contract talks to come with Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, Bryan Rust and Evan Rodrigues in the offseason, having an extra $4 million to work with would go a long way to getting all of them signed. Kessel is also familiar with the franchise and is only getting moved if it’s the right situation for him and his family. He’s well respected in Arizona and management is keeping him in the loop on all trade discussions. Pittsburgh is likely near the top of his list of preferred destinations.
While the Penguins aren’t expected to move any of their top draft picks or prospects, management is trying to get creative to not only add talent for the playoff push but also create some flexibility moving forward. Moving Pettersson would help a tremendous amount in trying to kill two birds with one stone and if they can add a player like Kessel or Dube to their mix, it would be a win-win situation in Pittsburgh.
Shane’s been a part of The Hockey Writers team since 2020, covering the Toronto Maple Leafs & Pittsburgh Penguins. A constant contributor, his versatile perspective on game results and everything off the ice produces diverse content. You can also find him on the Maple Leafs Lounge podcast with Peter Baracchini and Alex Hobson. Follow along on Twitter @ShugMcSween