The Pittsburgh Penguins now find themselves in what is for them very unfamiliar territory, at the very bottom of the National Hockey League's Metropolitan division. It is a position that the Penguins have not found themselves in this late into a regular season in over a decade and it's a position that you know Penguins' general manager Jim Rutherford does not intend to remain in for very long if he can help it.
Rutherford already made it crystal clear earlier this month that he was getting closer and closer to make a trade and you have to believe that every single loss that his Penguins suffer only serves to increase his sense of urgency in that regard. Now that does not mean that the Penguins GM is going to make any major changes, players like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are far more likely to end their respective careers in Pittsburgh than they are to ever get dealt, but it was obvious from Rutherford's words that something is going to have to give.
Now that the Penguins have fallen all the way down to last place I believe that Rutherford's process is going to be greatly accelerated and with that in mind here's a look at three of the players that are most likely to find themselves traded sooner rather than later.
#3 Bryan Rust
Probably the player the least likely to be dealt on this list and also likely the one that fans would be the most disappointed to see traded out of town, Rust still seems like a reasonable candidate for a trade. The veteran forward's production has seen a significant decline this season, although he certainly is not alone in that regard, but is close enough to some strong past performances that rival teams would very likely still see his value.
Rust at times has been very good for the Penguins and his 13 goals and 25 assists for 28 points in 69 games last season is evidence of that fact. That being said he has just 1 goal and 4 assists for a total of 5 points on the season and that makes him expendable, you don't want to trade him at a low point in his value only to see him bounce back stronger for a rival team however.
#2 Derick Brasaard
A blatantly obvious choice for the Penguins. Brassard was brought in to be the organizations third line center but he has largely failed to take on that role in a full time manner for the Penguins. If he is going to continue to fit better as a winger he also becomes expendable, however the issue is that he likely doesn't have as much value as a trading chip than the other two on this list. That being said, playing with Crosby has artificially boosted his stats a little and he has 1 goal and 4 assists for 5 points in 9 games, and perhaps Rutherford could get some value in return given his current form.
#1 Daniel Sprong
Once considered to be one of the Penguins top prospects Sprong has not developed into the kind of star right winger that he was once thought to be, although some of the blame for that may be due to how the Penguins have limited his development. At 21 years of age Sprong would likely welcome a move to a team that would give him more ice time and he's young enough that he still likely carries considerable value in a trade deal. This is the move that would make the most sense for a number of reasons, but like Rust you don't want to trade a guy like Sprong to a rival team only to see him fully hit his potential there.