What impact forwards could the Penguins trade for at the deadline?

Marcus Pettersson #28 of the Pittsburgh Penguins. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Marcus Pettersson #28 of the Pittsburgh Penguins. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Penguins are well-equipped to make a run this season, but which impact forwards should the Penguins consider making a move for at the deadline?

With Juuso Riikola and Colton Sceviour (again) placed on waivers, the Penguins appear to be giving themselves some flexibility heading into Monday’s trade deadline.

While Sceviour will likely remain with the Penguins, Riikola’s name has generated some buzz on social media. Obviously, that doesn’t mean anything, but he has a better chance of being picked up by another team — his extra year may hinder that though.

Even if both players are stashed on the taxi squad, the Penguins can create room for new acquisitions and, more importantly, create roughly two million in cap space.

Riikola has played well in limited play with the Penguins, but he’s not really going to crack the lineup this season or next. If he’s lost, good for him getting a chance. If he stays, he’ll likely spend the remainder of the season on the taxi squad.

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So, with the potential increase in cap space and some extra room for acquisitions, what should the Penguins do?

Well, that depends. Are the Penguins seriously going to challenge for a Stanley Cup this season? And, if they are, will another piece put them over the edge? Or are they a good team that’s likely a mid-round exit?

These Penguins are not a top contender for the Stanley Cup, but could Buffalo’s Taylor Hall or Detroit’s Anthony Mantha put them over the edge? That would be about the extent of making a splash move I’d want this season.

Hall would be the easiest to acquire for the Penguins. Counting $8 million against the cap for just this season, Buffalo would have to eat some of that cap hit, but the Pens would have some flexibility to get the deal done.

Pierre Lebrun of The Athletic (subscription required) wrote in a trade deadline column how an NHL executive he’s spoken with has said that Hall could be had for a second or third round pick plus matching salary.

It just so happens that the Sabres also have a defensive need now after trading Brandon Montour to the Florida Panthers. If the Sabres were to eat half of Hall’s contract, a 2021 second-round pick and Petterson for Hall would be an incredible value for the Pens.

While the cost would likely be higher, inflated from competition for Hall, would the inclusion of a mid-tier prospect like Kasper Bjorkqvist or Calle Clang be enough to swing the deal?

Mantha, a 26-year-old forward with 10 goals and 20 points in 41 games this season, has a $5.7 million contract that runs through the next three seasons. He would be a big, goal-scoring acquisition that the Pens could feature for seasons to come.

If the Penguins would want a player to stay for multiple seasons, Mantha would be an intriguing option, however, he’d be much, much more expensive. It would likely require a 2022 first round pick, one of Sam Poulin or Nathan Legare, someone like Marcus Pettersson to match the cap hit and more.

That just isn’t going to cut it, and his $5.7 million cap hit is likely a tad too high for the Penguins’ liking.

Another longer-term rental option could come in the form of Anaheim’s Rickard Rakell though.

Rackell, a 27-year-old forward with an additional year of control at an affordable $3.8 million, would be an excellent addition for the Penguins. His play with the Ducks this season (seven goals and 22 points in 37 games) doesn’t jump off the page, but the talent level in Anaheim isn’t exactly elite. Just imagine his play with Evgeni Malkin and Kasperi Kapanen for a second…

His cost would likely be a first round pick and a top prospect (Poulin or Legare again). If that’s what it takes for Rakell, the Penguins should think long and hard about it.

Unfortunately, Rackell and Hall will both be in high demand as the trade deadline of 3:00 P.M. Monday approaches.

If the Penguins are unable to acquire any of the splashy impact forwards, either mentioned above or not, I would prefer them to stand pat. Yeah, a fourth line center would be nice, but is it worth it to spend on a player triple the cost of Mark Jankowski for similar results?

In the event, the Penguins can iron out a reasonable deal for Hall or Rackell, what could a lineup look like?


Jake Guentzel – Sidney Crosby – Bryan Rust

Rickard Rakell/Taylor Hall – Evgeni Malkin – Kasperi Kapanen

Jason Zucker – Jared McCann – Brandon Tanev

Zach Aston-Reese – Teddy Blueger – Evan Rodrigues

Frederick Gaudreau/Radim Zohorna


Brian Dumoulin – Kris Letang

Cody Ceci – Mike Matheson

Mark Friedman – John Marino

Chad Ruhwedel


Tristan Jarry

Casey DeSmith

To recap, the Penguins’ top line of Crosby, Guentzel and Rust remains the same. A top-tier line across the NHL.

The burgeoning yet largely unexplored Malkin and Kapanen line would add either a former NHL MVP or a former 30+ goal scorer who plays a solid two-way game.

The third line keeps McCann at center, a spot where he has thrived over the past 15 games, keeps Zucker with him AND adds Tanev to the mix. That’s about as good a third line as the Penguins could ever ask for.

While it hurts to take Tanev off the buzzsaw line, Rodrigues is a very capable addition to one of the best fourth lines in the league, complementing ZAR and Blueger.

Defensively, the top pairing of Dumo and Tanger stays the same. No point in splitting up the best pairing on the team.

The surprisingly good Ceci and mercurial Matheson make a fine second line, one capable of producing strong offense every game — just don’t ask for consistent defensive play.

The third line is the biggest gamble. While I’d love Pierre-Olivier Joseph getting a chance to pair with Marino on the third pairing, it appears POJ is set to finish this season in Wilks-Barre. That would give Friedman to best opportunity to carve out a spot in the lineup to end this season.

And there’s no explanation needed for Jarry and DeSmith. Two guys that will bring it every game.

Next. Check out what grades the Penguins' forwards have earned this season. dark

What do you think of the Penguins’ chances of making a splash move this deadline? Let me know in the comments below!