Trade rumors can be tricky business. The rumor mills are a hotbed for sparking controversy and debate among hockey fans. In this weekly piece, I look at the current marketplace and what rumors are circulating both with the Pittsburgh Penguins and the NHL abroad. Unless otherwise noted, these discussions are strictly rumors and not information from personal sources.
Following the acquisition of Carl Hagelin from the Anaheim Ducks, the rumors surrounding the Pittsburgh Penguins mostly halted. There needed to be a settling-in period for both Hagelin and Trevor Daley, and newly hired head coach Mike Sullivan had to evaluate what he had. Well, that evaluation period is over and so is the void of Penguins’ rumors.
Overall, the Penguins are happy with their lineup as currently constructed. As I’ve recently discussed, I don’t believe Jim Rutherford is looking to make a high-profile acquisition or blockbuster trade. He doesn’t need to. He has also said that he’ll be more careful with picks and prospects this season, as opposed to mortgaging the future for rentals, which is something the Penguins have done almost every season in recent memory.
From a cap perspective, Pittsburgh has more flexibility than most realize. In fact, Rutherford also recently discussed the cap and stated that the Penguins have a little more than $2 million to work with. So, in theory, they could make a significant addition if a tempting deal presents itself.
Lets take a look at what’s floating around the league right now.
Penguins Interested in Mikkel Boedker
It looked as if Boedker was likely to be moved last summer as a restricted free agent. Contract negotiations with Arizona were tough and the team had a lot of uncertainty around it at the time. Now, after a fairly productive season point-wise, he’s back in the rumor mills and connected to the Penguins.
I saw Boedker as a great addition for Pittsburgh in the past, as the Penguins were looking to get younger and faster. Fast is exactly what he can bring.
Boedker currently has 13 goals and 38 total points in 57 games this season playing primarily alongside Antoine Vermette and rookie Max Domi. The biggest knocks on the 26-year old speedster has been his inability to stay healthy and very poor underlying numbers. However, one has to wonder how much impact playing in Arizona has on his stats, considering they’re consistently a bad possession team. How different would his numbers look on a team like Pittsburgh?
He will likely cost more than the Penguins can or should spend at the deadline, but it’s worth mentioning since there’s rumored interest here. It has been reported that Boedker may be looking for north of $6 million when signing a new deal this spring, so he’s clearly a rental for the Penguins if a deal were to occur.
Dale Weise a Possible Target for Pittsburgh
Weise is having quite the productive season in Montreal and the Canadiens are looking to make some changes. Weise’s name has creeped into the rumor mills as of late, and the Penguins are potentially in the mix.
According to phone calls I made since last week: Anaheim, Nashville, Pittsburgh in mix for Dale Weise.
— Eric Engels (@EricEngels) February 21, 2016
Weise would be an interesting addition for Pittsburgh and does fit their needs. At 6-foot 2-inches and a shade over 200-pounds, he plays an aggressive game and would add some much-needed physicality without sacrificing production. His style isn’t all that different from a younger, larger Chris Kunitz, but he doesn’t boast the same finishing potential. He has clear weaknesses in his game but would offer an upgrade over a few of the AHL forwards that currently reside in Pittsburgh’s bottom-six.
Cost will be a huge factor, of course. The concern now, following a deal that sent Roman Polak and Nick Spaling to San Jose in exchange for two second-round draft picks and Raffi Torres, is the Canadiens know Weise is worthy of at least a similar return.
The Dale Weise asking price, according to one GM last week, was a 2nd and 3rd round pick. https://t.co/RkwxhVTJpK
— Craig Custance (@CraigCustance) February 22, 2016
If Rutherford stands by his word and avoids anything that mortgages this team’s future, he’ll steer clear of Weise. And, along the same lines of protecting the Penguins’ future…
Penguins are Telling Teams Matt Murray Isn’t Available
Murray, the Penguins’ highly touted goaltending prospect, has garnered interest from around the league.
Friedman confirms Calgary's looking for a goalie. Says they asked about Matt Murray out of PIT, but PIT said he's not available.
— Draglikepull (@draglikepull) February 21, 2016
Murray was recently recalled to back up Marc-Andre Fleury after Jeff Zatkoff, the Penguins’ normal backup, struggled yet again on Saturday afternoon vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning. Many assumed he would stay with the NHL club with Zatkoff getting waived but the Penguins re-assigned him to the AHL on Monday.
Rutherford, while speaking with media on Monday afternoon, said that they haven’t made a decision on Murray’s NHL status but that he’ll likely see more games following the trade deadline. While it’s unclear what the Penguins are planning for Murray’s time with the big club, it’s clear that he isn’t going anywhere via trade.
Peter Holland on Pittsburgh’s Radar?
We all know that the Leafs are looking to unload any resemblance of an NHL roster in order to jump-start their rebuild. According to Darren Dreger, Peter Holland may be a person of interest for the Penguins.
— Chris Nichols (@NicholsOnHockey) February 17, 2016
From a high-level view, it’s easy to see a fit here. Holland has some upside for a bottom-six forward and has put together a fairly productive season with 23 points in 52 games. He would also come fairly cheap, which looks to be an ideal situation for Rutherford this year. However, he’s another player that boasts poor underlying numbers and simply isn’t a good possession player. Similar to Boedker’s situation, is it due to the team he plays for?
The interest thing about holland’s possession numbers is that they all jump pretty substantially when he’s away from other anchoring individuals on the Leafs. So, there might be something to the fact that he’s being pulled down by his counterparts. His most common line mates are Joffrey Lupul and Daniel Winnik. Without Lupul, Holland’s Corsi-for percentage increases from 49.4 to 51.5. His jump without Winnik is even more substantial, leaping from 47.1 to 52.4.
Sometimes, you have to base your decision on a player’s skill set and understand that their statistical results may vary depending on who they’re playing with. So, at the right price, Holland could be a decent addition to the bottom of Pittsburgh’s forward lineup.