Looking to add middle-six scoring depth, the Pittsburgh Penguins acquired Rickard Rakell from the Anaheim Ducks on Monday right before the 3 o’clock deadline in exchange for Zach Aston-Reese, prospect Dominik Simon, goalie Calle Clang and a second-round draft pick in 2022.
Rakell has a very affordable cap hit of $3.8 million this season and will be an unrestricted free agent following the season as his six-year, $22.8 million contract expires. Earlier Monday, the Penguins acquired defenseman Nathan Beaulieu from the Winnipeg Jets for a seventh-round conditional draft pick in 2022.
What the Penguins Are Getting
Last season, Rakell was a name that was floating around at the trade deadline in April, but Anaheim ended up holding onto the 28-year-old. This season, he has 16 goals and 12 assists for the Ducks and despite being a left-shot, he can play on his off-wing if needed. He has five goals and nine points on the power play, which gives the already-loaded Penguins man-advantage depth. He has trouble creating his own scoring chances, but with Pittsburgh, that should not be a problem with the talent depth they have at the forward position.
The 30th overall pick in the 2011 Entry Draft has played 550 career games in Anaheim over 11 seasons with 154 career goals and 185 assists. He has 33 career power play goals and 51 assists. He had a career season in 2017-18 with highs in goals (34), assists (35), points (69), power play goals (eight), and power play assists (10) and points (18). in 2016-17, he scored 33 goals and finished with 51 points. He had seven goals and six assists in 15 playoff games with a plus/minus of plus-13 as the Ducks advanced to the Western Conference Finals before losing in six games to the Nashville Predators.
Rakell, who was out with a lower-body injury and most likely being held out of the lineup by the Ducks to avoid a bigger injury ahead of the deadline, is on pace for 27 goals in an 82-game season.
Verbeek Continues to Wheel and Deal
The Ducks have been slowly falling out of playoff contention in the Western Conference, which has made it easier for new general manager (GM) Pat Verbeek to begin dealing away key players to acquire assets in return to help with a rebuild in Southern California. Verbeek, who was hired on Feb. 4, began dealing last week.
On March 14, Anaheim traded defenseman Josh Manson to the Colorado Avalanche for prospect Drew Helleson and a second-round draft pick in 2023. Saturday, Verbeek sent defenseman Hampus Lindholm to the Boston Bruins for three draft picks, prospect Urho Vaakanainen and defenseman John Moore. Aston-Reese is a bottom-six forward that is strong that has been strong in his defensive end early in is career.
Manson, Lindholm, and Rakell were all scheduled to become free agents this offseason and despite trying to work out extensions with each player, it was something that Verbeek was unable to work out. Instead of signing long-term contracts with the three players, Verbeek is collecting several draft picks. He has one first-round pick, two second-round picks, and a third-round pick over the next three drafts, along with Vaakanainen, who is a promising young defenseman.
Scott Roche covers the Boston Bruins for The Hockey Writers. A frequent user of the Oxford comma. Scott has been a sports writer for 25 years for different sites and daily newspapers. Writing started out as a hobby, but it has become a passion for Scott over the years.