Looking At Potential Adds For The Penguins At The 2021 NHL Trade Deadline

From left to right: John Marino, Mike Matheson, Bryan Rust, Sidney Crosby, and Jake Guentzel celebrate a goal


From left to right: John Marino, Mike Matheson, Bryan Rust, Sidney Crosby, and Jake Guentzel celebrate a goal

With the Penguins poised to qualify for the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Pittsburgh will be an intriguing team to follow during and on the NHL’s Trade Deadline, which ends at 3PM Eastern on April 12th. With so many teams still with a mathematical chance at a playoff spot in this shortened 56 game season, the number of “sellers,” or teams out of the playoffs and looking for picks and prospects at the deadline, are scarce. 

It also doesn’t help that the Penguins have less than $2 million in cap space and are stripped of assets for trade pickups. Pittsburgh doesn’t have their own first round pick this year (it belongs to Minnesota as part of a package to bring Jason Zucker to Pittsburgh), or their third round pick that was shipped away last year in a weird time that saw 40-year old Patrick Marleau play 8 regular season games before the 2019-20 season was shut down due to Covid-19. Their fourth round pick is also gone, departing to Arizona all the way back in 2019’s Phil Kessel trade. 

This will be the first real test for the new management duo of General Manager Ron Hextall and President of Hockey Operations Brian Burke of their vision for the team. It’s likely that Hextall won’t be nearly as open to mortgaging the future as former Pens GM Jim Rutherford was. Under Rutherford’s leadership, the Penguins traded every first round draft pick they had from 2015 to 2021, with the only exception being in 2019 when Pittsburgh drafted Samuel Poulin. 

The Penguins may not be looking to add much, and it’s probable that their biggest additions will be players like Kasperi Kapanen, Brandon Tanev, and Evgeni Malkin, who are currently on IR, if and when they return. Pittsburgh’s forward depth has been phenomenal, with guys like Frederick Gaudreau, Anthony Angello, and Sam Lafferty stepping up big time in the absence of players like Teddy Blueger, Jason Zucker, and the aforementioned Malkin and Kapanen. Gaudreau, in particular, has been stellar filling in on the fourth and occasionally third line. 

However, piles of injuries seem to be an occurrence for the Penguins, who have dealt with similar situations constantly the last few years, and the Penguins know very well how important a lot of depth is. It was a large part of their 2016 and 2017 Stanley Cup Championships. With that being said, here are some intriguing names that Pittsburgh could look to pick up:

Blue Jackets Captain Nick Foligno tosses a puck from his stick during warm-ups (nhltraderoumers.me)

Nick Foligno, Forward, Columbus Blue Jackets

33 years old

UFA after 2020-21 season

$5.5 million dollar cap hit

Foligno wouldn’t be a bad depth add for the Penguins. In 40 games with CBJ, Foligno has 6 goals and 9 assists for 15 points. At 33, he’s probably not that top six guy who is going to light up the score sheet, but you’re probably not asking him to either. The only real drawback here is his cap hit of $5.5 million. There would definitely have to be some working out there, perhaps sending someone with a high salary back to Columbus, who is quickly falling out of the playoff picture, or perhaps Columbus retains 50% of Foligno’s salary to Pittsburgh can have an easier time sending someone with a lesser salary back. Hextall might have to get crafty if Foligno is really his guy. 

Carl Soderberg warms up before his frist game with Chicago (Chicago Blackhawks official Twitter account)

Carl Soderberg, Forward, Chicago Blackhawks

35 years old

UFA after 2020-21 season

$1 million dollar cap hit

Soderberg is another name who would fit the bill well of what Pittsburgh should be looking for if they decide to add. He’s not a flashy trade acquisition, but someone who can play center (a luxury come playoff time), and has a very low cap hit Pittsburgh can work with. In 33 games with Chicago, Soderberg has tallied 6 goals and 8 assists for 14 points. He has a faceoff winning percentage that hovers around 51%. Chicago, who currently sits 2 points back of a playoff spot in the Central Division, could look to move guys like Soderberg for mid to late round picks if they see the 4th spot in the Central fall a little more out of reach. 

Scott Laughton looks for teammates to celebrate a goal on the road (TSN)

Scott Laughton, Forward, Philadelphia Flyers

26 years old

UFA after 2020-21 season

$2.3 million dollar cap hit

Laughton would be a guy that Ron Hextall knows quite well. He didn’t draft him (Laughton was drafted in 2012, before Hextall’s tenure with Philly), but Laughton did play under Hextall as Philly’s GM for 5 years. Laughton is a half point a game player right now, with 7 goals and 10 assists for 17 points in 34 games. Laughton is still young, possibly bringing up the likelihood that the Penguins could want him for longer than their planned playoff run. His cap hit is manageable. The only downside is it’s Philly. There’s an unwritten rule in hockey that big rivals don’t trade with one another. But it’s possible that Hextall, who has switched sides in said rivalry, could pry Laughton away from the Flyers, who are 9 points back of the Penguins coming off of a rough March

Luke Glendening looks up the ice in a game against the Predators in Nashville, TN (AP/Mark Zaleski)

Luke Glendening, Forward, Detroit Red Wings

31 years old

UFA after 2020-21 season

$1.8 million dollar cap hit

Glendening, a center, would be a great fit for Pittsburgh. His goals and assists numbers may not be the highest (3 goals, 8 assists in 38 games), but some of his numbers beyond that are outstanding. His faceoff winning percentage is 63.79%, which leads the entire NHL. Glendening is also currently posting a +2 for his +/- stat. Being only +2 may not sound like a big deal, but it should look more impressive considering he is playing a bottom six role with the Red Wings, who are 13-22-5, last place in the Central Division. Glendening might be exactly what the Penguins are looking for. 

Of course, there’s always the possibility that the Pens go for a much bigger splash at the deadline, which is in less than a week, but if you believe the rumors, one or a few depth adds are the way Hextall and Burke are planning on going about things. Out of the names above, Glendening or Soderberg are probably the most likely, just because of their low cap hits, which a cap-strapped team like the Pens will look to target without having to give up much if anything off of their current roster. 

It’s also completely possible that Pittsburgh stands pat, which is almost unheard of in recent years based on Rutherford’s constant shuffle of players in the Penguins organization, but a definite possibility. The Penguins could aim for some completely free acquisitions, when Teddy Blueger, Brandon Tanev, Kasperi Kapanen, and Evgeni Malkin all return from injuries.