Penguins News & Rumors: Forward Trade, Christmas Movies & More

Welcome to Pittsburgh Penguins News & Rumors, where we cover all the hot topics about the club and dive into more than just box scores. Get ready for some rapid-fire headlines that will run us through all the noise surrounding Pittsburgh’s beloved Penguins.

Penguins May Move a Forward Before the Deadline

Dating back to when general manager Ron Hextall and team president Brian Burke took over the Penguins, it seemed that Jason Zucker would become a prime trade candidate. He’s paid $5.5 million per season and his production hasn’t met expectations since his arrival from the Minnesota Wild. He also doesn’t play the style of game or have the size both Hextall and Burke have on their wish list.

Jason Zucker Pittsburgh Penguins
Jason Zucker continues to find himself among trade rumors (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

In the past, I’ve focused on three teams Zucker could be dealt to, but it appears the chances of moving him are picking up steam in the media. Dan Kingerski of Pittsburgh Hockey Now recently reported he also sees Zucker and Kasperi Kapanen as prime trade assets. After Evan Rodrigues’ coming-out party, Kingerski thinks the Penguins will look at moving on from one of their other wingers. Zucker makes sense, but not Kapanen. He’s the youngest of the three and is a pending restricted free agent, so the Penguins still have control over his services.

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One of the benefits of moving Zucker and his $5.5 million salary (for this season and next) is the creation of cap space. If management can get creative enough with a trade that brings in some cheaper assets, it will free up space for the next offseason. This is extremely vital as the team has Kris Letang, Evgeni Malkin, Bryan Rust, and Rodrigues to re-sign. The only worry is trading him and making the team worse, which is likely why a deal hasn’t been completed just yet. The Penguins have Stanley Cup aspirations, so don’t expect to see Hextall and Burke make any moves that could cause the team to take a step back. It’s only onwards and upwards from here.

Related: 5 Penguins Who Probably Won’t Be Back Next Season

Zucker has no-trade protection that exempts him from being traded to 10 teams of his choice. He also has roots in the California area, and that he would be in the Western Conference could make the Anaheim Ducks an interesting trade partner. Considering Burke’s history with the organization, and the fact they want to add before the trade deadline, keep an eye on these two teams as a match made in trade rumor heaven.

Penguins Share Their Favorite Christmas Movies

Shout out to the Penguins’ social media team, who continue to roll out entertaining content. This week they were again spot on with their material. As the Penguins players rolled out for practice, they were asked to name the best Christmas movie of all time and the answers may surprise you. Take a look:

To no one’s surprise, Home Alone took the cake with five selections, followed by The Grinch with three and Elf with two. I expected more players besides Brian Boyle to say Christmas Vacation, which would have been my choice. It’s real nice, Clark.

Sullivan Sends a Clear Message to His Team

With the NHL’s extended pause over the Christmas break, the Penguins won’t return to game action until Dec. 27 against the Boston Bruins. However, even that game is uncertain, considering the rising COVID-19 numbers. Regardless, head coach Mike Sullivan wants his players to maintain the right frame of mind, an aspect of his coaching strategy since day one. Control what you can control and stay in the right mindset to win.

Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Patric Hornqvist, Mike Sullivan
Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan is a hockey genius (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

The Penguins are 12-2-1 in their past 15 games and riding a season-high seven-game winning streak. There will be adversity along the way, which began before the season even started, and the Pens are lucky to have a coach who knows how to keep his players prepared. He wants them to be ready for the unexpected and accept and embrace any adversity. Sullivan doesn’t get enough credit, and let’s hope he finally receives some serious consideration for the Jack Adams Award for coach of the year. At this pace, he’s going to be tough to beat.

Well, that does it for me until the big guy comes. But I want to pass along my appreciation for following along with my column. The response has been great since we started posting a few weeks ago. Happy Holidays to you and yours, and let’s reconvene once the Penguins are back in action. For now, don’t forget the milk and cookies.

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