Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Ron Hextall has yet to make any significant moves since he took over, but that could soon be changing. The team has been active in trade talks and continues to work the phones ahead of the April 12 trade deadline. Hextall recently met with Michelle Crechiolo of NHL.com and revealed he’s looking to add a physical winger to his top-nine forward group.
It’s been almost two months since Hextall was named general manager, and the evaluation phase should be over. It’s time to execute a deal and upgrade the roster. With the likes of Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin not getting any younger, Hextall owes it to this group to stay in win-now mode.
With the injuries to their forwards, the Penguins will be learning on the fly as they head into the playoffs. The team hasn’t iced a fully healthy roster basically all season and it’s going to be tough for head coach Mike Sullivan to get everyone on the same page. Expect to see another name added to the mix and a lot of the focus will then shift to Sullivan to see what he can do with his lineup to maximize their potential.
As for Penguins fans, they have been waiting patiently to see what the new management regime has in store and so far there’s only been a minor waiver claim. There are some players available on the trade market and from all accounts it sounds like the Penguins have been in contact with several teams.
The Penguins Have Some Interesting Options on the Trade Market
Miles Wood, New Jersey Devils
Several teams have inquired about the New Jersey Devils’ Miles Wood, and he would fit in perfectly on the Penguins. He’s fast and plays with grit, and at 25 years old, he will make the team younger as they get better, a perfect recipe for any organization. Wood is having a great season on a bad team in New Jersey, collecting 11 goals in 36 games. He’s signed through next season at $2.75 million on the cap, which is a number the Penguins could work with moving forward.
Lawson Crouse, Arizona Coyotes
Crouse is still only 23 years old and is signed through next season at $1.53 million against the cap. The former first-round pick of the Florida Panthers hasn’t yet taken off for the Coyotes and could benefit from a change of scenery.
Crouse is a physical forward, and he is among the league leaders in hits by a forward. He’s playing third-line minutes for the Coyotes and would provide the Penguins with a physical presence to create a shut-down line in the playoffs. Crouse has two goals and seven points in 35 games this season. Last season, he recorded 25 points in 66 games, and the rugged winger has the potential to score 40-50 points if used properly.
Luke Glendening, Detroit Red Wings
Glendening’s name has been linked to the Penguins before, and Hextall should do whatever he can to add the 31-year-old to his roster. He’s a pending free agent making $1.8 million against the cap, and the Red Wings are listening to offers for his services. There’s going to be a bidding war for the long-time Red Wing, and that’s because he’s the best faceoff specialist in the league, he’s physical and doesn’t back down from the dirty areas of the ice.
The Red Wings only have two defensemen signed for next season and none signed long-term. The Penguins are trying to relieve themselves of a serious salary-cap crunch, and they could send one of Michael Matheson or Marcus Pettersson to Detroit. This would not only bring Glendening on board, but it would also save the Penguins millions of dollars moving forward by dealing from their depth on defense.
Hextall and Burke need to make at least one trade before the deadline. The new management regime has yet to do much, and while their resources may be limited when it comes to draft picks to trade, they are experienced executives who need to show that they can be creative with their next transaction to push their team one step closer to winning another Stanley Cup.