Pittsburgh Penguins Can Create Flexibility With Marcus Pettersson Trade

The Pittsburgh Penguins were defeated by the Boston Bruins on Tuesday, in what was a nasty affair between the two teams. From a questionable hit by Penguins forward Brandon Tanev to a stellar performance by Bruins rookie goaltender Daniel Vlader, this game had it all. Well, everything but a great performance from Penguins defenseman Marcus Pettersson, and unfortunately for fans, they have become accustomed to seeing this most nights this season.

Back in 2018, former Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford decided to trade prospect Daniel Sprong to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for Pettersson, in what some called an under-the-radar move for the Pens. The early impressions of Pettersson’s game were positive as early on in Pittsburgh he was able to make the first pass, chip in on offense and be as steady as ever in his own end. Unfortunately, that hasn’t continued into this season as he’s not doing anything well, and it’s time for the new management regime to do whatever they can to move on from him and his expensive contract.

Marcus Pettersson Pittsburgh Penguins
Marcus Pettersson is expensive for a bottom-pair defenseman (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Brian Burke and Ron Hextall took over in January and have a tough task in front of them when it comes to executing trades to upgrade this Penguins roster before the April 12 trade deadline. Pettersson has one point in his last 17 games and has seen his ice time decrease as the games have gone on this season. During the past two games, he’s only played just over 13 minutes of ice time, and if you’re making $4.02 million on the salary cap, your team’s going to expect more out of you.

Management will have to get creative with any Pettersson trade and would likely have to include a prospect or two to facilitate the deal. It will definitely be prospects over draft picks, because unfortunately Rutherford basically traded away all the Penguins picks for the 2021 Draft, but that’s the price you pay for trying to chase success.

Three Teams Who Could Be Interested in a Pettersson Trade

Winnipeg Jets

The Jets are working the phones hard for another defenseman and have been linked to the Nashville Predators’ Mattias Ekholm. While the price is expected to be steep, they could see Pettersson as a fallback option. Sure, he’s struggled this season, but last season the 24-year-old recorded 22 points in 69 games, which is part of the reason Rutherford signed him to a five-year, $20 million contract extension. Perhaps Burke and Hextall can convince Jets’ general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff that Pettersson can return to form with a change of scenery. Because of cap issues the Penguins would likely want pending free-agent Mathieu Perreault back in the deal.

Chicago Blackhawks

The Blackhawks are open to taking on salary in trades as they have over $20 million in long-term injured reserve money to use and the Penguins should be all over this. Chicago could use another defenseman after Brent Seabrook retired and Pettersson could fit the bill. The good thing about any trade with the Blackhawks is you don’t necessarily have to take any salary back, so this move could be one of multiple trades after Penguins management free themselves up of his $4 million cap hit. If you’re trading him to Chicago, you can certainly classify it as a salary dump.

Detroit Red Wings

Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman is thin on defense when it comes to talent under the age of 25 and he also has a cupboard full of rental forwards who could step in and help the Penguins. The likes of Bobby Ryan and Luke Glendenning would be welcome additions to the Penguins, and are two players Burke absolutely loves.

Bobby Ryan Detroit Red Wings
Bobby Ryan has been linked to Brian Burke his whole career (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

The more this is discussed, the more it makes sense for the Penguins, as it would allow for them to acquire some more forward depth on both sides of the puck and save a ton of money on the salary cap moving forward. This creative deal is the type of trade the new regime needs to complete — not only does it help the “win-now” mentality it also opens up flexibility moving into next season and beyond.

The Penguins management team have some decisions to make as we approach the April 12 trade deadline. Moving Pettersson and his expensive contract should be on the top of their list. Even if it means they need to sweeten the pot with a prospect, the team is desperate for salary cap flexibility and this is one way to create some space.

Burke and Hextall were a couple of hired guns by the Penguins, let’s see if they can pull the trigger on a beneficial deal.