Penguins News & Rumors: Rakell, Pettersson, Sullivan & More

Welcome to Pittsburgh Penguins News & Rumors, where we cover all the hot topics and dive into more than just box scores. It’s been a whirlwind few days in Pittsburgh as the trade deadline brought some unexpected excitement to the club and they showed against the Columbus Blue Jackets they’re going to be a tough team to beat down the stretch. Get ready for some rapid-fire headlines running us through all the noise surrounding Pittsburgh’s beloved Penguins.

Newest Penguin Has Connections in Pittsburgh

Word is Penguins general manager (GM) Ron Hextall didn’t truly feel he had a chance to acquire Rickard Rakell from the Anaheim Ducks until the morning of the trade deadline. Talks began to escalate and the next thing you know a multi-player deal was completed, with the Penguins shipping off some spare change to land a former two-time 30-goal scorer.

Rickard Rakell Anaheim Ducks
Rickard Rakell scored a career-high 34 goals with the Anaheim Ducks in 2017-18 (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

While joining a new team can be stressful, it seems like the transition should be a smooth one as Rakell and Penguins defenseman Marcus Pettersson go way back. The two were teammates on the Ducks and hit it off, becoming close friends who loved to train together and enjoy their spare time in each other’s company.

There’s been nothing but great things said about Rakell’s first impression in Pittsburgh and considering the needs of the team, hats off to Penguins management for finalizing that trade. The team now has much more balance in the top nine which should bode well for the postseason, and they didn’t lose any of their depth on their blue line to do it. Two huge wins for Hextall, to say the least.

Related: Matt Murray’s Legacy with the Penguins

You may have thought you were busy the past couple of days, but nothing compares to what Rakell had to go through just to make the Penguins’ game on time. It was a night of flights, followed by a much-needed nap and some handshakes before Pittsburgh’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

A 5-1 victory saw the prized acquisition play 14:08 on the night including 1:21 on the power play. Expect to see the 28-year-old versatile winger moved up to the second line with Evgeni Malkin as he works himself into some more practices with the team.

Penguins Head Coach Not Set on Line Combinations

With the struggles of some of the Penguins forwards including Kasperi Kapanen over the last month or so, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan has been juggling his middle-six lines trying to find the right combination of talent. With Rakell now in the mix, it sounds like he’s destined for the team’s second line, one that could see him on the left wing and Evan Rodrigues on the right side.

While the top line of Bryan Rust, Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel shouldn’t ever be broken up, the second line should see Malkin, Rakell and Rodrigues, meanwhile, the third line will likely be centered by Jeff Carter and flanked by Kapanen and Danton Heinen. Look for Brock McGinn and even Teddy Blueger to push for a top-nine role down the stretch. Needless to say, there’s much more balance up front and it’s going to go a long way come playoff time.

Penguins Were Linked to Several Trades Before Deadline

The Penguins may have completed one deal with the Ducks, but they were linked to several others before the deadline passed. Talks were rumored to be ongoing with the Detroit Red Wings regarding forward Tyler Bertuzzi, as some questioned if GM Steve Yzerman was getting fed up with Bertuzzi not buying into the team.

Pittsburgh also reportedly had discussed some pieces with the Vancouver Canucks including the likes of Brock Boeser, Conor Garland and Luke Schenn, meanwhile John Marino, Pettersson and Kapanen had their names floating around the rumor mills as well. At the end of the day, one deal was completed and it might end up being one that will have a big impact on the hockey club down the stretch run.

Morning Skate newsletter Click To Subscribe

It’s time to give Hextall and president of hockey operations Brian Burke a ton of credit. They were dead set on not moving assets like a first-round pick, any of their top prospects and preferably their core pieces from the active roster. They were successful in doing so and deserve a round of applause. The Penguins are destined for a long playoff run and appear to be a serious threat in the Eastern Conference. Let’s all enjoy it because this upcoming offseason could bring some tough decisions to swallow for fans in Pittsburgh.


Sign up for our regular 'Penguins Newsletter' for all the latest.