The Pittsburgh Penguins and Carolina Hurricanes had high expectations set for this season, with one team coming off back-to-back Stanley Cups, and the other boasting a very deep roster of high-end young talent.
Neither team has performed up to snuff in the first quarter of the season. The Pens are 11-8-3 while the Canes sport a 9-6-4 record. Neither are bad, but they are quite average for two teams expected to compete this year.
Both teams have a particular need up front - Carolina needs scoring help and Pittsburgh still needs a good 3rd line center. They traded for Riley Sheahan but he hasn't performed as well as they probably would want him to.
Meanwhile, Carolina's Victor Rask was made a healthy scratch for the first time this season after being invisible for the majority of the season thus far. With 48 and 45 points in his last two seasons before the age of 24, there are high hopes surrounding the Swedish centerman. His 5 points in 18 games this year have underwhelmed his coaching staff and led to the scratch.
And as it turns out, they were better without him. They scored twice at even strength and twice up a man, and won 4-2. His replacement, Elias Lindholm, another very promising young player, scored in Rask's absence.
Could Pittsburgh try and nab Rask from the Hurricanes? He has all the tools to be a very effective player behind Crosby and Malkin.
The question becomes: who do they offer?
Jim Rutherford is reportedly trying to unload Carl Hagelin. He has also not performed too well this year, with a meagre 3 points in 21 games. Could the two teams swap struggling offensive talents? Rask is the better of the two, and at 5 years younger, would demand a higher return than just Hagelin. Perhaps Pittsburgh adds a draft pick and/or a good prospect.
It would definitely be an interesting trade for Pittsburgh, but they'd have to make it worth Carolina's while.