Did the Pittsburgh Penguins get enough in the Jake Guentzel trade?

The Pittsburgh Penguins are still one of the more talented teams out there, but that didn’t stop them from selling winger Jake Guentzel near the NHL trade deadline.

Pittsburgh Penguins v Minnesota Wild
Pittsburgh Penguins v Minnesota Wild / Nick Wosika/GettyImages
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Breaking down the prospects Pittsburgh acquired for Guentzel

A 51st-overall pick in 2021, Ville Koivunen has yet to make the permanent trip to North America, but he did make his AHL debut last season with the Chicago Wolves and stayed for 12 games, logging just one point in the process. 

However, Koivunen has made quite the jump this season with Karpat in Liiga, where he has 55 points and 21 goals in 57 contests. With such a jump in productivity, Koivunen could be ready for North American hockey in 2024-25, and if that’s the case, look for his game to further evolve.

The Penguins may have landed an NHLer in the Guentzel trade

Another former second-round pick, Vasily Ponomarev has been playing pro hockey in North America since the 2021-22 season, where he ended the campaign with 10 points and three goals in 11 games before tacking on another six points and one goal in 18 playoff games. Last season was an encouraging one for the forward, as he recorded 46 points, 24 goals, and 22 assists in 64 games. 

This season, he scored 29 points and eight goals in 39 games with the Wolves, and Ponomarev also saw time in the Carolina Hurricanes lineup for a pair of contests, where he logged one goal and one helper. The clear upside with Ponomarev is that he appears to be NHL-ready, considering his productivity not only in the AHL, but also in his limited appearances with the big club. 

Pittsburgh also received an intriguing prospect in Cruz Lucius, whom the Hurricanes selected 124th overall in 2022. Lucius was the only unsigned prospect involved in the trade, and he is currently at the University of Wisconsin, where he has 65 points and 23 goals in 66 contests through two seasons. 

Lucius will be one to watch if he keeps up his current productivity, and if he stays in school for another two seasons, the Penguins will eventually have a sound developmental prospect with some high-scoring potential in their system over in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.