The injury-ravaged Pittsburgh Penguins suffered another blow when a shoulder injury sidelined winger Jake Guentzel four-to-six months. While their depleted roster remains in playoff contention, GM Jim Rutherford is on the lookout for a short-term replacement.
Following Guentzel’s injury, The Athletic’s Rob Rossi examined Rutherford’s options. He can free up an additional $6 million by placing Guentzel on long-term injured reserve and put it toward bolstering his roster. Rossi speculated the Penguins GM could shop his first-round pick, suggesting New York Rangers left winger Chris Kreider could be his top target.
Seth Rorabaugh of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports Rutherford received some calls from rival GMs, but all they’ve offered are depth players rather than a top-six winger. He indicated the versatility of his wingers means he doesn’t necessarily have to pursue a left winger to replace Guentzel, suggesting he’d also consider a right winger if the offer made sense.
With his club still playing well, Rutherford can take his time and wait for the trade market to improve If Kreider’s unobtainable, the Los Angeles Kings’ Tyler Toffoli could be on Rutherford’s radar.
Meanwhile, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman felt Guentzel’s injury could provide much-maligned Alex Galchenyuk with a new lease on life in Pittsburgh. The 25-year-old winger has struggled this season, becoming the topic of frequent trade speculation. So far, he continues to see fourth-line duty.
Sabres, Flames not done dealing?
The Buffalo Sabres and Calgary Flames made the first notable trades of the New Year. On Jan. 3, the Sabres shipped defenseman Marco Scandella to the Montreal Canadiens for a fourth-round pick in 2020, then flipped that pick to the Calgary Flames for winger Michael Frolik.
Following those moves, TSN’s Darren Dreger reported the Sabres could have other moves coming. With defenseman Zach Bogosian and winger Evan Rodrigues requesting trades, one or both could be on the move soon. The Sabres still need another experienced forward.
Flames GM Brad Treliving, meanwhile, cleared $4.3 million off his salary-cap payroll by shipping Frolik to Buffalo. The Athletic’s Scott Cruickshank reported Treliving doesn’t intend to sit on his new-found cap space. Cruickshank thinks he could be in the market for a big, top-six right winger. Sportsnet’s Eric Francis suggested the Rangers’ Chris Kreider, the Kings’ Tyler Toffoli, Florida Panthers wingers Mike Hoffman and Evgenii Dadonov and the Edmonton Oilers’ Zack Kassian as possible trade targets.
Toffoli seems the most realistic. The New York Post’s Larry Brooks believes Kreider doesn’t have any Canadian clubs on his list of trade destinations. The Panthers aren’t moving Hoffman or Dadonov while they’re in the playoff hunt. Same goes for the Oilers with Kassian, who they’re reportedly keen to re-sign.
Francis’ colleague Elliotte Friedman reported Saturday the Flames prefer acquiring a player with term on his contract rather than a pending free agent. One possibility could be Chicago Blackhawks winger Brandon Saad, who carries a $6-million cap hit through 2020-21. Treliving would have to shed more salary to take on Saad’s contract or persuade the Blackhawks to pick up part of his cap hit.
If the Flames target Toffoli, they’re going to have company. Adrian Dater of Colorado Hockey Now reported the Avalanche are linked to the 27-year-old winger.
What next for the Predators?
Having fired coach Peter Laviolette, Nashville Predators GM David Poile could have other moves in store if his struggling club fails to improve. Prior to Laviolette’s dismissal, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported Poile was calling around to see what’s available in the trade market.
ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski believes Poile will be active leading up to the Feb. 24 trade deadline, pointing out the Preds GM already indicated his club is open for business. Wyshynski points out the Predators have five picks in the first three rounds of this year’s draft to use as trade bait, as well as an estimated $8 million in deadline cap room.
Much will depend upon where the Predators are in the standings once the calendar flips to February. If Poile becomes a seller, pending free agents such as Mikael Granlund and Craig Smith could hit the trade block.
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