As the Penguins get closer to the trade deadline they’re looking more deadly and (unsurprisingly) more banged-up than ever. Big performances since the calendar has hit 2018 from Malkin, Kessel, and Crosby have been welcome. However, injuries to Hornqvist, Sheary (for a little bit) and Kuhnhackl are not.
The good news is, as we barrel towards the trade deadline, the Penguins seem less intent on finding a third-line center as Riley Sheahan has settled in well. What this means is that they’re more than likely now looking at the bottom center role on the line-up than someone to push Sheahan to the 4C. Now, as Jason Mackey reports, that’s not to say they won’t do their due diligence, but that means they’re not the desperate team of a few months ago. So let’s talk about some potential trade fits.
Tomas Plekanec – Montreal Canadiens
Cap Hit: 6.0 M
Expiry: 2018 UFA
There are a lot of things
When I said the Penguins would do their due diligence, this is what I meant. Before you pass out from shock at the 6 Million dollar cap hit, there is a caveat here. In order for this move to work the Canadiens will have to eat some of Plekanec’s cap for the remainder of the year. The thing is, Montreal is pretty much out of it and also happens to have 6 Million dollars already in open space. So, might as well toss it in and start looking to Free Agency and the draft this summer. So what about Plekanec, well let’s look at his hero chart first.
The chart looks alright. I mean think about how the Penguins would use him, his ice time would go down. He would have better linemates and a better defense in front of him. So, sure his Corsi-For% isn’t great right now, about 45%, but a lot of that team is struggling and he’d be able to play a smaller role with the opportunity to slide up just in case.
Kevin Hayes – New York Rangers
Cap Hit: 2.6 M
Expiry: 2018 RFA
The New York Rangers all but announced last week that they’re done for this season when they asked winger Rick Nash on his no-trade list. Since then everyone’s been in a tizzy over where Nash fits but that’s not who the Penguins could or should be eyeing. No that is Kevin Hayes. The 24-year-old center who is currently making 2.6 Million and will be a restricted free agent at season’s end. Hayes HERO chart looks like this:
I know it isn’t blowing anyone away but adding someone like that is a noticeable upgrade over Rowney, who has been in and out of the line-up and not that great when he is in it. Case in point? at 5-on-5 Rowney’s scoring chances for percentage is 43 while Hayes is 49. Again, not perfect but an upgrade. Plus there’s the issue of what position does Kevin Hayes play? He’s been pushed around between wing and center by Vigneault but seems better suited to center.
Markus Granlund – Vancouver Canucks
Cap Hit: 0.9 M
Expiry: 2018 RFA
I’m not sold on this one but the Canucks are a natural fit trade partner. They need to rebuild. They need picks. I mean trading an RFA isn’t necessarily something that fits that but hey, it’s worth considering. And Grandlund is a cheap center option for the Penguins as long as they don’t kid themselves about what they’re getting like the Canucks did when they acquired Granlund. So, let’s look at the numbers:
Again, not super duper special. But a cheap, center, depth player they could add to bring more punch down the middle. And he’s young and playing in Vancouver so the chance to play meaningful games in May should appeal to him enough to see him give his best.
Cap Hit: 1.0 M
Expiry: 2018 UFA
This is another one that almost scared me away a bit but for that price and after the Rangers essentially stuck a “For Sale” sign on their front yard? It’s worth it to kick the tires. So we move on to the HERO:
This is another “not much exciting” going on but it is worth it to note that he’s getting more ice time and asked to do more for the Rangers than he would be in Pittsburgh. Additionally, while his 5-on-5 SCF% is only 44 the entirety of the Rangers team is hovering near 47 so it’s probably got more to do with the team than anything. He was regularly a 50+ player for Montreal before leaving to Edmonton. And while he might not be getting any younger he’s still only going to be 4C on a team with much more to offer ahead of him than the Rangers.
Cap Hit: 5.0 M
Expiry: 2019 UFA
Ah, this is the name I’m sure everyone is clamoring for. And on a paper-thin market, it’s hardly surprising. Problem is more that Ottawa wants the house and the garage with the car still in it for him. But, hey we can dream and he certainly would fit nicely into the Penguins short-term while providing their younger centers time to develop. So, the chart:
Look at all that BLUE! Blue is good here folks, very good, better than what I truly expect the Penguins to get at the deadline if I’m being honest. He’s definitely a borderline 2C in some places. His SCF% sits at 49 on a lottery team and was perfectly respectable 52 last season. He’d be a perfect fit, honestly, if the price doesn’t price the Penguins right out. But… he does have the modified NTC so maybe, like Phil, that’ll help swing things the black and gold way.
Overall, the center trade market is about as deep as a puddle and the situation is about as clear as mud. But these guys all fill needs the Penguins have. And could help the team on their quest to do the impossible.