Over this past offseason, the Pittsburgh Penguins have made quite a few moves. It seems that regardless of what time of year it is or how the team is doing, they continue to make headlines. The highlight of this summer’s actions was the acquisition of Phil Kessel for Nick Spaling, a duo of high end prospects and a couple draft picks. Overall, it was a solid move for the Penguins, and Kessel should play very well with either Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin.
However, Kessel was not the only player the Penguins were interested in trading for. It finally has come to light that if the Leafs would not move Kessel for a price the Pens deemed acceptable, they would have been negotiating for James Van Riemsdyk. Toronto was open to moving other players as well, but the Penguins were only interested in Van Riemsdyk and Kessel.
Are the Penguins and Leafs Done Trading?
Like I’ve said, the Penguins have always found a way to keep their name in the headlines. They’re currently working on the sale of the franchise and there have not been many updates on their progress. Some thought it would have happened over the summer, others think it will happen right before the seasons starts. But one thing has been made clear, Mario Lemieux (and potentially Ron Burkle) are taking their time with this deal.
A few days ago, hockey Youtuber and Sportsnet contributor, Steve Dangle revealed what he thinks could happen during the season. And before I continue, this is not to say that this trade will happen, but for both franchises the move would make sense. Dangle’s belief is that Rob Scuderi will end the season as a member of the Maple Leafs.
After the move to acquire Kessel, it seems that the Penguins and Leafs are both open to trading with one another. However, each franchise is in a different position and a Scuderi trade actually would be beneficial for both sides. No Pittsburgh probably wouldn’t get anything significant in return for the 36-year old defender who makes $3.375 million per season. It would be a salary dump and Toronto currently has $2.5 million in cap space. But once the season starts, forward Nathan Horton (and his $5.3 million dollar cap hit) will be placed on long-term injured reserve.
But now why would Toronto even want a player who’s career is almost over and provides little value? Well, the Leafs are in full rebuild mode and they’re trying to get their hands on as many high-end prospects as they can. Adding Scuderi would be the first move in an effort to tank for a high draft pick. Realistically, Toronto will not be a competitive team within the next two seasons. That’s when his contract expires and anyone who has watched the Penguins can tell you that Scuderi certainly would not improve the Leafs’ current team. His cap hit helps to keep them away from the salary floor and, in theory, he could mentor some of their young defensive prospects.
It’s also worth noting that when the Leafs and Penguins were beginning discussions for Kessel, Scuderi was involved in the trade package going back to Toronto.
There’s a limiting factor in a move like this and it’s Scuderi himself. He’s got a partial no-trade clause and it’s unsure of how many teams he can block a trade to. At this stage in his career, he’s going to want to play for a contender, but there aren’t any serious contenders, besides the Penguins who already have him, that would actually want to trade for him.
If the Penguins can find a way to move Scuderi to Toronto, they will do everything in their power to do so.
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Michael Pityk is an analyst who has written for numerous sites since beginning his professional career. He’s acted as a credentialed member of the media for the Philadelphia Phillies, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Pirates and the Pittsburgh Penguins. His work has been featured in Sports Illustrated, The Sports Journal, MSN, PensLabyrinth, Montreal Hockey Talk, ESPN Pittsburgh, The Hockey Writers, Todays SlapShot and The Bleacher Report. He formerly was the editor of Pens Labyrinth and an analyst for The Sports Journal. Michael presently acts as an NHL Analyst for The Hockey Writers