While scribbling the morning column, the big deal went under and the question, “Where will Pierre-Luc Dubois be playing next week?” Was answered. The Columbus Blue Jackets captured all-star sniper Patrik Laine and RFA center Jack Roslovic for Pierre-Luc Dubois, but the trade is also having an impact on the Pittsburgh Penguins’ trade targets.
Columbus coach John Tortorella’s dissatisfaction with Dubois and his game came to a head on Friday. Canadian national media indicated that trade is imminent. It was complete on Saturday morning and a third-placed driver also went to Winnipeg, where he also received 26% of Laine’s salary.
No, the penguins and GM Jim Rutherford weren’t with Dubois. However, Roslovic was believed to be a penguin trading target, according to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet and a secondary endorsement from PHN.
Roslovic in Columbus will likely end the chase for Penguin GM Jim Rutherford.
The penguins can turn their attention to a defender as their blueline is depleted and could even be improved if they are in good health. On Thursday, TSN insiders reported that he was buying more than one replacement part, but the available NHL trade market forced him to review most of the third pairing defenders.
Before we get to potential defenders, let’s see how I make the list. This is only a partial list based on urgent needs and low hanging fruits.
An LHD makes sense because circumstances forced head coach Mike Sullivan to put John Marino on his backhand on Friday night. Marino struggled with the movement. An LHD would allow the right-handed marino to revert to his natural right side and give the penguins a choice of Chad Ruhwedel or Cody Ceci when mating three times.
A player who is from a Canadian team (the North Division) would go through the quarantine procedure and about four, six, or eight games. That seems to lessen the urgency factor. For now, we’re going to be removing the North Division defenders.
Detroit Red Wings assistant GM Pat Verbeek has been in the building for two games in a row. Verbeek was in the barn for the second game against the Washington Capitals and the first game against the New York Rangers. Since there is no match between the divisions, let’s assume he doesn’t do any pre-scouting work for 2021-22.
The Pittsburgh Penguins and Anaheim Ducks are occasional partners on the dance floor. Rutherford and Anaheim GM Bob Murray have teamed up for several trades in the past few years, including David Perron for Carl Hagelin, Daniel Sprong for Marcus Pettersson and Erik Gudbranson for Cap Relief.
Also, an Anaheim Boy Scout was supposed to be in attendance at the Penguins vs. New York Rangers on Friday night (although social distancing prevented confirmation).
Vegas, Anaheim, and Minnesota should also be in the seats last night (you wouldn’t believe my scout list this year. I like making friends in low seats …)
Minnesota hired seven defenders on Friday night. There are a few scratches hanging around in Vegas.
Potential trade targets for penguins: defenders
LHD Nicolas Hague, 22, Golden Knights of Vegas
The Pittsburgh Penguins should definitely want to get their hands on the “Haguer Bomb”. The Hague is 6-foot-6, 221-pounds, and moves pretty well for a giant. He has a HEAVY shot from the top and will throw that weight around on occasion. He was the second pick in Vegas in 2017 so he’s young and has more potential.
Those are exactly the reasons why Vegas wants to keep it.
Vegas has a strong blueline despite the fact that the team cannot afford to attract a sixth defender. Hague would be an ideal asset to acquire, perhaps in exchange for taking on a bit of salary and getting Vegas out of the chaos of salary caps.
LHD Nick Holden, 33, Golden Knights of Vegas
Holden’s cap hit is $ 1.7 million and his contract expires after this season. Holden is not a coveted grab, but a useful defender. He approved the exemptions for being assigned to the taxi squad, so the Holden market is not robust.
He will not “inspire” anyone, but if the penguins are in need for a left-handed person without a contract term, this can be right. File this under “if nothing else …”
LHD Carson Soucy, 26, Minnesota Wild
Minnesota has seven D-men in the NHL line-up after taking over former penguin Ian Cole last week. Soucy has two years left on a $ 2.75 million AAV contract. He’s tall (6-foot-5, 211 pounds), plays with some jam, and can log large minutes.
He’s not a good top-four defender, but he’s an NHL-caliber defender who could anchor the second pairing with John Marino. Soucy’s contract isn’t overly onerous, and it could be penguin trade bait if the blue line turns well, or the penguins could keep it and cast someone else depending on its performance.
We also considered Ryan Suter, who Rutherford was linked to last season, but the math with four years remaining in excess of $ 7.5 million a year is too difficult for us to try.
LHD Danny Dekeyser, 30, Detroit Red Wings
Dekeyser will make $ 5 million a year through the end of next season. He’s also a legitimate NHL defender who makes $ 5 million for one more season. He missed all but eight games last season after back surgery, so there are real questions about his health but not his talent.
Detroit would certainly want a legitimate return, though Dekeyser’s age, injury, and salary could make him expendable in rebuilding the Red Wings.
Dekeyser is 6-foot-3, has excellent ice skates, and can move the puck.
For a penguin trade to make sense here, Rutherford has to part with something Detroit wants: youth and talent. Most importantly, the ledger would also need to be balanced.
Not impossible, but not easy.
LHD Jon Merrill, 28, Detroit Red Wings
Talented but inconsistent. Merrill only makes $ 925,000 this season. He could be a stopgap solution for Rutherford to provide Sullivan with the tools to keep Marino on the right.
Merrill’s best season was 2018-19 with Vegas. He scored 15 points (3g, 12a) in 57 games.
Detroit could play hardball. They could wait in the hopes of getting top dollars in the NHL by the close of trading. Steve Yzerman, GM of Detroit, is smart and a top talent appraiser. Perhaps the penguins have something that Detroit believes could bloom if they had more Ice Age.
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