Penguins News & Rumors: Lehner, Bugsy Watson, Buyout Candidates

Welcome to another edition of Pittsburgh Penguins News & Rumors. In this edition, we will touch on the recent news surrounding Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner, the passing of Bryan “Bugsy” Watson, and some potential acquisitions from the upcoming buyout market.

Robin Lehner a Potential Penguins Target?

As the Golden Knights continue to try and maneuver their way around the cap, there have been rumblings that they may opt to move one of their two goaltenders in Lehner or Marc-Andre Fleury. Ownership has stated that they would like to retain ‘Flower’ and let him play out his career in Vegas, so that leads to the former potentially being moved.

Mark Madden of TribLive wonders if the Penguins would join the market if Lehner became available. If Fleury isn’t an option, he would be a good option depending on how expensive his trade value is (from ‘Mark Madden’s Hot Take: If Vegas won’t trade Marc-Andre Fleury, Penguins should pursue his teammate’, TribLive, 7/3/2021).

Lehner has four more seasons on his deal with a $5 million annual cap hit. He holds a modified no-trade clause that includes an eight-team no-trade list.

Robin Lehner, Vegas Golden Knights (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

Lehner, 29, had a 13-4-2 record to go with a .913 save percentage (SV%) and 4.96 goals saved above expected (GSAx) this past season and should be a legitimate starting goaltender somewhere next season.

Bryan “Bugsy” Watson Passes Away at 78

Former Penguins defenseman, Bryan “Bugsy” Watson has passed away at 78 years old. The team announced his death through Twitter but did not reveal details.

Watson spent parts of six seasons with the Penguins, from 1968 to 1974, accumulating 8 goals and 65 points in 303 games played along with 871 penalty minutes, the fifth-highest total in franchise history, and 48 fighting majors.

In total throughout his career, Watson played 877 games in the NHL, with 17 goals and 152 points along with 2,214 penalty minutes, with tenures in Montreal, Detroit, Oakland, St. Louis and Washington in addition to Pittsburgh. He maintained a reputation for being a hardnosed defensive defenseman.

Potential Buyout Candidates the Penguins Should Watch

In a recent piece, Dan Kingerski of Pittsburgh Hockey Now went over potential NHL buyouts for the Penguins to watch, as he believes that several players could fit with the team on “salvage” deals.

For starters, Kingerski states that he does not believe James Neal is one of those players, as he looks like someone whose career is done. He also says that although Ben Bishop has been in recent potential buyout lists, he does not see Bishop as a realistic option, as he thinks the Seattle Kraken would claim the goaltender in the expansion draft, or that another team would outbid the Penguins if Bishop did hit free agency.

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One of the potential options includes goaltender Martin Jones of the San Jose Sharks. In each of his last three seasons, Jones’ save percentage has been .896%, but new voices and surroundings along with a better team could help the struggling netminder.

Another player on Kingerski’s list is Zach Parise, a winger on the Minnesota Wild. Jim Rutherford is thought to have sniffed around the trade market for both Parise and Ryan Suter back when he was managing the Penguins. If Bill Guerin decides to bite the bullet and buy out Parise, he would be worth it on a minimum deal.

Zach Parise, Minnesota Wild, January 14, 2019 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Finally, at the top of Kingerski’s list is Paul Byron, a winger on the Montreal Canadiens. A bottom-six player who can chip in offensively and produce in the postseason would be a solid addition for Pittsburgh. Byron wouldn’t be a huge transaction, but his grit could fit well with Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan, despite the lack of size.

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