The Penguins have been at the centre of the trade universe for weeks now, and that only picked up more steam when general manager Jim Rutherford stated he was prepared to make a major trade to shake things up. The team has played more than any other in the NHL over the last two years, making two complete Stanley Cup playoff runs. They are in need of some fresh legs, and Rutherford appears poised to acquire a major piece. It was reported on Sunday that the Penguins have a trade on the table, but it was put on hold due to the holiday roster freeze which took effect Tuesday at midnight and doesn’t lift until the 27th at 12:01am. This tweet itself confirms that there is a trade going down – but we’re left to fill in the blanks. And it isn’t too difficult to figure out. The name that’s been circulating the most is Ian Cole – the acquisition of Jamie Oleksiak on the back end was seen as a potential replacement for the rugged defenseman, as he has been on the outs with head coach Mike Sullivan for awhile now. However, it’s also possible that Kris Letang is the big name leaving town. Nick Kypreos spoke about the possibility on Saturday night – saying that “one name that I do hear out there that is being bantered about is Kris Letang”. Elliotte Friedman echoed that declaration by saying that the price tag looks to be two forwards – a centre and a winger. Kypreos believes that Rutherford would love to shed his salary – and since they won the cup without him in 2017, they could afford to let him go for reinforcements up front. Other names that could very well be on the block and involved in this trade are Conor Sheary, Carl Hagelin and just about any of the other bottom six forwards.
The Vegas Golden Knights had it all figured out. The plan from Day One was to build the team through the draft with a goal of reaching the playoffs in three years and winning a Stanley Cup in five. Evidently, the team did their math wrong. They won’t stop winning now in Year One. However, despite the team’s success, they have done exactly as they’ve planned. The Golden Knights built their 2017 NHL draft based on multiple trades that came with the expansion draft as they picked up an extra two first-round picks in draft-day deals. They also added an extra second rounder as well as extra fifth and sixth round picks. That totaled 12 picks in that draft, or 13, if you add seventh-round pick Dylan Ferguson, who the team picked up in a trade after the draft. The draft pick collecting didn’t stop just with the 2017 draft, however. They picked up quite a few for the 2019 NHL draft as well as they have seven picks in the first three rounds in that draft and 12 picks total. Even in 2020, the Golden Knights have four picks in the first two rounds. However, the one draft that Vegas hasn’t targeted is this upcoming draft, the 2018 NHL Draft. It’s obvious, the team’s plan was to accumulate picks at the trade deadline this year. The team has several top players in the last year of their deals that could be sold off for assets, players like James Neal, David Perron, Luca Sbisa and possibly even Jon Marchessault. That has always been the plan, until now. But what do you do with Neal? While Marc-Andre Fleury has been the face of the franchise, it’s Neal that has endeared himself to Vegas fans. The winger has 17 goals, which leads the team and fans would love to have him stay with the franchise. However, he will be 31 years old at the start of the season next year. This will be Neal’s last opportunity to cash in on a big contract, which he truly deserves. However, do you give a 31-year-old player a long-term contract? An six-year deal? Eight years? At what cost? Or do they just let him walk away next season and start all over again. Perron and Sbisa are probably easy enough to let walk away at the end of the season. While they both have played extremely well this year, the team could probably find replacements at their positions quickly enough. Don’t forget they have two young first-round picks who are dominating their junior league in Cody Glass and Nick Suzuki and another first-rounder in Erik Brannstrom in Sweden waiting to come over. Even Marchessault’s situation is easier to predict as he’ll just be 27 next year. A long-term deal might not look too bad at his age. No matter how many years they sign him for, after two years he’d be 33 years old in a league that caters to young players and have started separating themselves from older ones. Is that what you want on a young expansion team? So, what should Vegas do with Neal?
Red Wings defenseman Mike Green would be a good fit for the Maple Leafs. Reporter stated: “He is a puck transporter. He shoots the puck as well now as when he was a youngster. He has always been an offensive catalyst going back to when he played for Saskatoon in the WHL. The biggest thing is Mike (Babcock) would know how to manage him and that’s a really important part of it when you get a player like that. He’s obviously a high-octane player. The price point for that player would be pretty high as far as what Detroit would potentially want. And Detroit sees themselves as in the mix as a potential playoff team, so don’t think they’re in a rush to do something that might break up what is an important part of their team”.