The Edmonton Oilers lost to the Washington Capitals on Monday night at Capital One Center. With his team in town, no one was surprised to see GM Peter Chiarelli patrolling the capital city of the United States the day prior to mid-term elections in the country.
The day after? Well, that was a bit of a surprise. On Wednesday night, Chiarelli was spotted still in Washington. He was listed on the scouting list for the Capitals game against their rivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins, according to Isabelle Khurshudyan of the Washington Post.
Interestingly, at nearly the same time as that report, another GM was making waves of his own. That GM was Pittsburgh Penguins’ boss Jim Rutherford. He showed clear frustration when talking to the Penguins’ pre-game show on radio, essentially saying he thinks this core group may be reaching their end.
The money quote for me? Rutherford adding that he will “make changes in short order” if things don’t turn around quick. The Penguins battled hard and played well, but suffered yet another loss last night when TJ Oshie scored with about 70 seconds left in the game.
If you thought the Penguins were frustrated before last night’s tilt, can you imagine the mood in there now?
A Trade Brewing?:
There is no doubt that Pittsburgh is considering shaking up their core group. We heard the Phil Kessel talk after last season, about how the Penguins were potentially looking to deal him. We’ve heard rumblings of Pittsburgh wanting to get a little bigger and tougher to deal with the likes of Tom Wilson in the playoffs. Now, we are hearing about the Penguins once again being willing to shake things up after a second straight rough start to a season.
There are plenty of options for trade in Pittsburgh. Kessel is the obvious one, with trade talks dating back nearly a year. He’s a $6,800,000 cap hit until the conclusion of the 2021-22 season, but finished with over 90 points a season ago and is still an impact offensive player. Every team could use him and that is just a fact.
31-year old Patric Hornqvist still has another four seasons to go on his contract that pays $5,300,000 per season after this, but he’s an established top-six forward that plays a tough and gritty style. In fact, he might be the best match for a Chiarelli/McLellan type player from the Penguin roster.
Pending UFA Carl Hagelin could be trade bait, while the Pens have seemingly been willing to deal defender Kris Letang since the conclusion of the 2015-16 season.
Kessel would immensely help the Edmonton attack, while Hagelin would be a nice get for a team looking to add to the speed and skill departments. If the Penguins are willing to move younger talent like Daniel Sprong or Dominik Simon? Well, you have to think both of those players would help the Oilers as well and be of interest.
On the Pittsburgh side of things, one name really sticks out. That name is Jesse Puljujarvi. The former fourth overall pick has not yet established himself as a full-time NHL’er, and to this point has been a disappointment. There is still time, and I am a firm believer in Puljujarvi’s potential and his future. Let me say it now: I think trading him would be a mistake.
That said, he makes perfect sense for the Penguins. He’s still relatively cheap and is a young player still developing. The potential is still very much in this player, and one could argue a change of scenery and of coaches could benefit him in a big way.
Trading Puljujarvi to the Penguins could do a few things. It could reset the young man’s career while also breathing some fresh air into a Penguins team that hasn’t seen much change since December of 2015. It could also give the Oilers a more established piece that makes the team better today and pushes them even closer to a playoff spot.
Is there a deal brewing between these two teams? Maybe. The pressure is on in Pittsburgh right now, while Chiarelli is managing in Edmonton for his job. Don’t underestimate a desperate manager and a manager actively looking to make change.
It may be nothing, but at the very least it is highly interesting.