Penguins News & Rumors: Healthy Lineup, Trade Targets & 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 Finally Able to Use All Their Weapons

The Penguins matchup in Vegas on Monday night against the Golden Knights was the first time this season that they essentially had a full lineup. Besides backup netminder Casey DeSmith, and depth forwards Danton Heinen and Zach Aston-Reese, what we saw was basically head coach Mike Sullivan’s “1-A” lineup. Tristan Jarry was available to start in net, and the team’s depth was on full display with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Jeff Carter centering different lines. Even some of the Penguins’ finest reporters weren’t sure what to do with the news:

After a slow start, Pittsburgh came around to play a great game against the Golden Knights, including five unanswered goals – two from Jason Zucker – for a 5-3 win in arguably the game of the season for the team. They had a balanced attack with all lines contributing, while Jarry stood on his head when he needed to, and he worked his way out of a slow start. 

It was a welcome site for Penguins fans and their season starts now. The team is 10 points clear in the playoffs, they are climbing up the Metropolitan Division standings and the sky is the limit. Look for Pittsburgh to try and bank as many points as possible while they have all their resources available.

Penguins Trade Targets

The buzz is picking up as we get closer to the Mar. 21 trade deadline, and expect the Penguins to be involved. I have already focused on trade targets on the Seattle Kraken, Vancouver Canucks, and Buffalo Sabres, and as teams fall out of the playoff picture, they will make it known they are open for business. Options will increase, and so will trade speculation.

Related: Penguins’ Trade Targets on the Vancouver Canucks

There is a sense that both general manager Ron Hextall and president of hockey operations Brian Burke are comfortable with their group, and if they don’t make a move, it won’t keep them up at night. However, they are always looking to upgrade the roster, especially their backup goaltender position and the bottom defense pairing. In that sense, DeSmith and Chad Ruhwedel could be replaced. Burke has made it clear he’s not interested in trading away high draft picks and top prospects, but the team could move some mid-level assets or depth forwards to cash in. 

Penguins Sniper Hits 20 Goals With Ease

Ho hum, Jake Guentzel scored 20 goals again. The Penguins forward converted on a beautiful wrap-around to score his 20th of the season to mark the fifth campaign in a row that he’s reached that feat. While many attribute his success to playing alongside Crosby, he’s shown he’s capable of lighting the lamp on his own. Crosby has missed many games in the past five seasons, and year after year Guentzel continues to score.

At $6 million against the cap for the next two seasons, Guentzel has become one of the best bargains in the league. While former general manager Jim Rutherford has taken his fair share of the blame for several bad decisions, signing the Penguins sniper to this contract should be praised. Guentzel is one of the ‘last men in’ candidates for the All-Star Game and the results should be announced on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the Penguins will be represented by Jarry in the Metro Division. It will be the goaltender’s second All-Star appearance, and he deserves all the credit this season, putting up Vezina-type numbers. The 26-year-old is in the top five in goals-against average, save percentage, and shutouts (among eligible netminders). It looks like the talk he had with Hextall last summer about being “the guy” has paid dividends; sometimes, all a player needs is a vote of confidence and some job security.

The Penguins have finished their western road trip, so fans can again go to bed at a decent hour. The team welcomes the Ottawa Senators on Thursday before they head to Columbus to take on the Blue Jackets on Friday night; these are two games well within reach, especially with a couple of practice days with basically a full lineup. Sullivan should have his team ready for puck drop. Pittsburgh is becoming elite right in front of our eyes, and expect a strong second half to solidify their playoff spot. 

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