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. As we creep closer to the trade deadline, let’s review some of the noise surrounding the team from some of the game’s biggest insiders.
Penguins Looking to Add Forward Depth
General manager (GM) Ron Hextall has made one thing loud and clear as we approach the March 21 trade deadline. If he can add a forward for the right price, he’ll certainly do so. There’s been a ton of question marks about what the Penguins will do with their group heading into the deadline, and Hextall basically laid out the cards on their strategy.
Adding a forward makes a ton of sense for Pittsburgh as besides the big guns up front, there’s been nobody carrying the load when it comes to secondary scoring. Jason Zucker has been hurt. Kasperi Kapanen has been inconsistent. Evan Rodrigues has cooled off, and the same can be said about Jeff Carter.
Expect to see Hextall try to acquire a forward who is either under contract for at least next season or someone he feels has a very good chance of re-signing with the Penguins. It’s obvious he has no interest in overpaying. If the team stands pat, he’s totally comfortable with the outcome.
Penguins Receiving Trade Calls From Other Teams
Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet confirmed on Saturday night that the Vancouver Canucks are interested in Penguins defenseman John Marino. The right-handed defenseman was signed to a multi-year extension by Jim Rutherford who was the GM of the Penguins at the time and is now the president of hockey operations in Vancouver.
Marino is signed through 2026-27 for $4.4 million per season, a number that appears to be very reasonable given the way he’s developed his game. So far in 2021-22, the 24-year-old has recorded 18 points in 59 games and ranks third on the team in ice-time. Right-handed defensemen who can move the puck, skate out of trouble and have a high hockey IQ don’t grow on trees, so it’s likely the Penguins hold on to their trade asset.
The Canucks have forward Brock Boeser, who is someone I focused on several weeks ago as a blockbuster target, and it appears the trade buzz around Boeser hasn’t quit. He’s due a huge qualifying offer this summer as he’s a pending restricted free agent and the Canucks may considering moving him for the right deal. Marino would need to be included in any deal with the Canucks along with a couple of top prospects. At this point it’s very unlikely Hextall is interested in moving so many assets.
Vancouver also has Conor Garland who has been tied to trade talks. He’s a shifty winger who plays the game hard, but he doesn’t seem like the Hextall and Brian Burke type of forward. He is only 5-foot-10 and 165 pounds. Garland has 31 points in 54 games and is signed through the 2025-26 season at $4.95 million annually.
Penguins Likely Trying to Move 2 Players
With Pittsburgh having the likes of Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, Bryan Rust, and Rodrigues still left to sign contract extensions, expect to see Kapanen and Marcus Pettersson being dangled as trade bait. Kapanen is a restricted free agent at the end of the season. Due to his inconsistency, lack of production, and the other orders of business for right-wingers on the roster, he’s become a prime trade candidate. At 25 years old, he still holds trade value and he’s shown in the past he can be an effective players. Any team who acquires the speedster should try him out on their penalty kill, something that hasn’t happened in Pittsburgh.
Pettersson on the other hand is having a good season, he’s making too much money as a depth defenseman on the bottom pair. The 25-year-old is signed for $4.02 million annually and is under contract for three more seasons.
Brian Dumoulin and Michael Matheson continue to stay ahead of Pettersson on the depth chart. With the desire and need to create more cap space moving forward in Pittsburgh, Hextall is likely using the versatile defenseman as trade bait to other teams.
Keep an eye on the Penguins this week, as the trade rumors will be flying out of Pittsburgh. Look for another news and rumors piece later this week where I’ll keep you updated on all the latest chatter.
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Shane’s been a part of The Hockey Writers team since 2020, covering the Toronto Maple Leafs & Pittsburgh Penguins. A constant contributor, his versatile perspective on game results and everything off the ice produces diverse content. You can also find him on the Maple Leafs Lounge podcast with Peter Baracchini and Alex Hobson. Follow along on Twitter @ShugMcSween