Pittsburgh Penguins: Trading Into the First Round Will Be Difficult With Lack of Assets


It’s not surprising to hear Pittsburgh Penguins General Manager Jim Rutherford say that he would like to acquire a first round pick for this summer’s NHL Entry Draft. The question is, can he pull it off? The Pens may not have the assets to do so.

More from Penguins News

Rutherford stated that he has already had conversations with some of the teams that hold two first round selections and will continue working to make a deal. However, this season’s Entry Draft is one of the more talented prospect pools that we’ve seen recently, so it won’t be easy to pry those picks from their respective GM’s.  Also, consider that the teams that hold two picks acquired those assets by moving players in order to help with a rebuild. The Pittsburgh Penguins will need to offer something that can help those teams build but they’re also in a position where they need their youth and don’t possess expendable prospects. Well, at least at forward or defense.

There are six teams that hold two first round selections this summer. Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto, Arizona, Philadelphia, and Buffalo. Five of those teams are clearly in a rebuilding phase and likely won’t want to part with their selection in such a talented draft.

The Pittsburgh Penguins could potentially find a trade partner in the Winnipeg Jets, as they’re a playoff team that could be looking to add NHL talent rather than coveting prospects. But, what expendable talent do they have that’s worthy of a first round pick? The answer is none, at least not when considering one specific individual.

A team that’s interesting to me in this scenario is the Arizona Coyotes. You’ve likely noticed that I’m very high on Mikkel Boedker as a fit for the Pittsburgh Penguins to address their top-six concerns, and maybe a package deal could be accomplished between the two organizations. Would you be willing to trade Brandon Sutter, Matt Murray, and Beau Bennett‘s RFA rights for Boedker’s RFA rights and a first round draft pick? Arizona needs a center, and with an aging Mike Smith combined with a lack of goaltending prospects this could be something that works.

Trading Matt Murray hasn’t been a popular opinion among Pittsburgh Penguins fans. But, at this point the Pens have an NHL backup-caliber goalie in Jeff Zatkoff and a solid prospect in Tristan Jarry. You have to give up something worthy of a first round pick to move into that position and Pittsburgh doesn’t have many other assets that can pull it off.

In any case, Jim Rutherford will need to tread lightly with what assets he gives up. Despite the opinion of many panicked fans, the Pittsburgh Penguins are a few pieces away from being a contender. They aren’t in need of a complete rebuild, so giving up NHL-capable players for the chance at a talented prospect may hurt more than help in the short-term. Let’s face it, they aren’t trading up to get Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel.

I see the best option for this team being similar to what I mentioned above, which includes players that can help both teams as well. This will be an interesting story line to follow as the offseason progresses. Of course, we’ll keep everyone up to date here and on Twitter with any information we can gather.

Next: Pens Can Learn A Lot From Remaining Playoff Contenders

More from Pens Labyrinth