Penguins News & Rumors: Trade Targets, Trade Chips & 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. 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 Being Linked to Familiar Face

According to David Pagnotta of the Fourth Period, the Penguins have recently been linked to a Arizona Coyotes trade, and more specifically to acquire Phil Kessel. A known commodity to Pittsburgh, all Kessel did was win two Stanley Cups during his time as a Penguin, and while his chemistry with Evgeni Malkin was questioned at times, there’s certainly some intrigue to the latest speculation. Especially considering Jeff Carter could slot in on the team’s third line and have Kessel ride on his right wing instead of Evan Rodrigues who can be moved up to Malkin’s line.

Phil Kessel Penguins
Phil Kessel enjoyed his time with the Pittsburgh Penguins from 2015-2019 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

If you remember back to Oct. 7, 2021, when the season was just beginning, I released an article about how the Penguins should consider adding Kessel this season. Even with his career low in offensive outputs in 2021-22, which includes only six goals and 33 points in 50 games, the 34-year-old is a potential addition that could have lasting impacts on a long playoff run.

Related: Penguins and Canucks Trade Could Provide 2022 Deadline Blockbuster

It’s also worth pointing out that Penguins president of hockey operations Brian Burke is a huge fan of Kessel’s and acquired him in a blockbuster deal while running the Toronto Maple Leafs, which saw three draft picks head to the Boston Bruins in exchange. Two of those picks turned out to be Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton — this time around it won’t cost near as much to acquire the reliable veteran.

Veteran Goaltender Linked to Penguins Trade

According to Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli, the Dallas Stars are considering moving veteran netminder Braden Holtby. The Penguins are not satisfied with backup Casey DeSmith to this point, as his inconsistent play is worrisome should starter Tristan Jarry go down with an injury or once again struggle early on in the postseason. Holtby is a proven winner who Penguins fans know very well from his time as a Washington Capital.

Braden Holtby Dallas Stars
Braden Holtby, Dallas Stars (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

So far, in 23 games, Holtby has posted a 2.78 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage. He’s only making $2 million on the salary cap, so certainly a number that could work for a cash strapped team like Pittsburgh. DeSmith is on the books for $1.25 million and both goalies are unrestricted free agents at season’s end.

Penguins Trade Chips Few and Far Between

While Brian Burke and general manager Ron Hextall don’t appear interested in moving any top prospects or first-round picks before the trade deadline in late March, they are open to hockey deals and more so mid-level rentals who won’t cost an arm and a leg to acquire. While Kessel and Holtby remain targets, the Penguins have forward Kasperi Kapanen who has made his way to the trade market.

Kasperi Kapanen Pittsburgh Penguins
Kasperi Kapanen, Pittsburgh Penguins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

I recently covered Kapanen’s down season in Pittsburgh and had him linked to a trade with the Calgary Flames. This was before the Flames acquired Tyler Toffoli from the Montreal Canadiens. The Penguins’ speedy winger remains linked to the Vancouver Canucks and Colorado Avalanche, who are in search of a right-handed shot forward.

Besides DeSmith, who the Penguins are likely going to upgrade from, there aren’t many from the current NHL roster that are expected to be included in trade talks. Reminder here that Burke and Hextall didn’t draft the majority of Pittsburgh’s prospects, so the loyalty factor won’t be near as strong when teams call asking about a certain player. Another name who would be included as a trade chip would be Jason Zucker; however, the forward is injured and essentially holds no trade value at this time. Look for management to try and move on from the final year of his contract that pays him $5.5 million in 2022-23 and free up some more money for the vital contract extensions that are looming for some of the team’s core.

Penguins Coach Loves What He’s Seeing From His Group

Even after a tough 4-3 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes last weekend, head coach Mike Sullivan is in love with his team. The Penguins bench boss recently met with the media and opened up for about 10 minutes or so on what he’s seen from his group and how much adversity they have had to overcome. The entire media availability can be seen below:

While the Penguins players certainly deserve a ton of credit for everything they have overcome this season, let’s not forget it’s Sullivan who is driving the bus in Pittsburgh. The way he’s able to get the most out of his players is absolutely mind-blowing at times and the organization is lucky to have him as their voice of reason.

That does it for the latest Penguins News & Rumors. It sounds like the team will be active before the trade deadline to do some slight tinkering to the roster. A blockbuster seems unlikely at this point, but don’t be surprised if a couple of familiar faces make their way to Pittsburgh.

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