The skid is bad in Pittsburgh and Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford is working up a plan to potentially pull the trigger on a trade to lead the way in the right direction. The Pens have now lost five consecutive games and the GM has been blunt and straight-forward about what needs to be done to stop the skid and improve right away.
“We’re not playing with any energy or determination," Rutherford said on the air with Josh Getzoff. “We’re just trying to get through the games. These other teams are coming, they’re outworking us and they deserve to beat us — in some of these games probably deserve to beat us worse than the score indicates.”
As we all know, Rutherford isn’t afraid to make moves at any point in the season to improve his club. For now, he has only made some changes internally, calling up Zach Aston-Reese and Garrett Wilson, but this could quickly change, and quite drastically as well. According to Jared Clinton of The Hockey News, three shocking trade baits could be used to make a blockbuster move on the roster.
Clinton suggests Patric Hornqvist, Carl Hagelin or Derick Brassard could become trade candidates. The three veterans aren’t playing well right now, but could still managed to land an interesting return as a change of scenery might be beneficial. Hornqvist carries a no-trade clause but if he’s willing to waive it, he could become an asset worth moving for the right return.
For instance, on the heels of a 29-goal, 49-point season, Hornqvist has managed six points in 14 games and is on pace for a 23-goal, 35-point campaign as he plays the first year of a five-year, $26.5-million pact. He carries a no-trade clause, but if he’s willing to waive it, he could be one asset worth moving for the right return. Hagelin, too, could be a candidate for the chopping block. After a tough 10-goal, 31-point season in 2017-18, Hagelin has a single goal and three points in 14 games, and in the final season of a deal that pays him $4 million annually, he isn’t playing up to his contract. And there’s certainly a conversation to be had about parting ways with Derick Brassard. Though currently sidelined with a lower-body injury, the Brassard acquisition hasn’t gone according to plan for the Penguins. Including the post-season, he has five goals and 17 points in 34 games. Brassard hasn’t been as impactful in his role as a third-line center as the Penguins would have hoped, and in the final year of an expiring contract before unrestricted free agency, he might be Pittsburgh’s best bet for a worthwhile return.
There have also been other rumblings, such as a potential trade with the Los Angeles Kings. Tanner Pearson, Jake Muzzin and Alec Martinez have been mentioned in trade chatter for several weeks now, even before the Kings made their coaching change. It is no secret that the Penguins have suffered since losing top defenseman Justin Schultz to injury and there isn’t much good that can be said about star goalie Matt Murray at the moment… Rutherford could be willing to pony up young forward Daniel Sprong.