Penguins News & Rumors: Guentzel, Expansion Draft & More

Welcome back to another edition of Pittsburgh Penguins News and Rumors. In this article, we will highlight some of the news and rumors surrounding Jake Guentzel and the team’s official protection list for the Seattle Kraken expansion draft.

Is Jake Guentzel a Potential Trade Chip?

In one of his pieces, Dan Kingerski of Pittsburgh Hockey Now discusses if Guentzel is a trade chip for the Penguins going into this offseason.

Kingerski classifies it as a ‘taboo subject’, but, possibly, the Penguins trade Guentzel. He clarifies that there haven’t been any rumors from his league source, but that the organization would try to keep it quiet if he were available for trade, and that there are very few players who, in exchange for Guentzel, could make Pittsburgh a better team.

Kingerski says he understands Guentzel is the first winger since Chris Kunitz to stick on a line with Sidney Crosby, and that his production shows how talented he is, but that the Penguins have needs, salary cap problems, and lack of size, along with three straight first-round exits in the Stanley Cup Playoffs looming over them.

Kingerski puts some blame for the Penguins’ postseason failures on Guentzel, stating he has just one goal in each of the three series losses, saying it isn’t good enough for a first-line winger, and that his lack of size has been a problem in the playoffs as well.

Jake Guentzel, Pittsburgh Penguins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Kingerski caps off the article by saying if Guentzel were to be traded, it would likely be one-for-one in a “hockey trade” for players like Matthew Tkachuk from the Calgary Flames or John Gibson from the Anaheim Ducks, but he says there aren’t many of those types of players available.

Tanev, Zucker, DeSmith Among Those Unprotected

The Penguins, along with 29 other franchises in the NHL, released their protection lists for the Seattle Kraken expansion draft on Sunday morning.

For starters, with the forward core, Crosby, Guentzel, Evgeni Malkin and Bryan Rust were all no-brainers to be protected. After that is where it got a little fuzzy. Kasperi Kapanen was protected, which I agree with, however, I did not agree with the decision to trade Jared McCann rather than protect him. Teddy Blueger was also protected, which I 100% agree with. The final forward protected was Jeff Carter, which I did not agree with. Don’t get me wrong, he was great last season, however, there’s almost no way the Kraken would have drafted him due to his age and the other centre options in the draft.

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On defense, Kris Letang, Brian Dumoulin, and Mike Matheson were protected. I would have liked to have protected Mark Friedman or Chad Ruhwedel with that third spot and allow Seattle a chance to take Matheson’s contract off the books, but it isn’t a big deal as he was good last season, despite the big cap hit.

In net, the Penguins protected Tristan Jarry. It’s not a big deal either way here – although, I advocated for the club to expose him, it really does not make much of a difference.

Some of the notable exposed names include Brandon Tanev, Jason Zucker, Casey DeSmith, Zach Aston-Reese, and Marcus Pettersson.

Brandon Tanev, Pittsburgh Penguins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The biggest loss from this list would be Tanev, who was the Penguins’ best player in the first-round series against the New York Islanders. His removal from the team would take a lot of energy off of the fourth line. Along with him, Aston-Reese would be a rough loss for the team. The best-case scenario is having the Kraken take either Zucker or Pettersson’s big contracts off the books.

Final Thoughts

Personally, I consider Guentzel an untouchable at the moment due to his age, production, and cheap contract. He is one of the league’s best shooters and fits perfectly in the Penguins’ top-six whether it is with Crosby or Malkin.

As for the expansion, I already gave my thoughts. The Penguins have to hope and pray the Kraken don’t select Tanev or Aston-Reese.

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