The Pittsburgh Penguins are off to a rough start to the 2020-21 NHL season as the team have failed to record a point in their first two games. The rival Philadelphia Flyers have been too much to handle early on this season and it’s obvious, there’s a few holes in the Penguins lineup. One notable area of concern has been their depth at right-wing, and it sounds like the team is working on upgrading the position.
According to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, the Penguins and Winnipeg Jets have discussed a trade that would involve right-winger, Jack Roslovic heading to Pittsburgh.
Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford is never shy to make changes, given he’s made 50-plus deals since arriving in Pittsburgh in 2014. However, this trade would be a touch complicated as Roslovic is currently a restricted free agent, unsigned, and has requested a trade out of Winnipeg. The Jets don’t have a ton of leverage in any deal, as every team in the league knows Roslovic wants out.
The Penguins, on the other hand, currently have $1.2 million in cap space, and Roslovic is likely to demand something north of $2 million per season on his next contract. This means someone off the Penguins NHL roster is likely to be moved as part of a potential package for the 23-year-old versatile winger.
As for what could be going the other way from Pittsburgh to Winnipeg in the deal, the Penguins have a few options that may interest the Jets. Here’s a few names to keep an eye on as the two teams continue to have dialogue about the trade:
The 27-year-old Finnish defenseman has yet to dress for the Penguins this season, but he is coming off a great training camp. The undrafted defenseman signed a two-year deal worth $1.15 million per season back in September of 2020. Last season in Pittsburgh, Juuso Riikola recorded seven points in 36 games and it won’t be long before he dresses in a game this season. Will it be for the Penguins or another team like the Jets is the question.
Winnipeg is very thin on defense, so from all accounts they have interest in getting an NHL-ready defenseman in return for Roslovic. Riikola is able to step right in and contribute and is stuck in a numbers game currently with the Penguins.
The 20-year-old Nathan Legare was a third-round pick back at the 2019 Draft and has been climbing the depth chart for Penguins management ever since. Before the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) was put on pause, Legare was playing very well for the Baie-Comeau Drakkar, recording 14 points in 14 games.
Last season in the QMJHL, he recorded 35 goals in 61 games and finished the year with 71 points on a struggling Drakkar team. If the Jets are looking to move Roslovic for a package that is more focused on the future, a player like Legare could be included to stock the Jets’ prospect cupboards.
If Legare is the focal point of the deal, it’s likely the Penguins include a 2022 mid-round draft pick to sweeten the pot.
The local-boy from Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania, is expected to play more of a prominent role for the Penguins this season, but in order to trade for talent, you need to send talent the other way. Sam Lafferty is off to a shaky start so far this season, with no points in two games and a minus-two rating.
Last season for the Penguins, the rookie put up 13 points in 50 games and was able to dress in one playoff game against the Montreal Canadiens. Lafferty is beloved by his teammates as he never shies away from contact and is willing to do the dirty work for any line that he’s on. So far this season, he’s only managed an average of 8:46 of ice-time, which could potentially go down even further once Kasperi Kapanen gets into the lineup after visa issues.
While trading for Roslovic of the Jets would not be a blockbuster deal, it’s the type of “tinkering” deal Rutherford and the rest of the Penguins’ management team love to and need to make.
It’s a never-ending battle to have the perfect combination of players in the lineup and as of right now, the Penguins need as much help on their right wing as possible. Time will tell if Roslovic is the answer, but one thing we do know, the Penguins are very interested and should be completing this deal.