The Penguins offseason has begun earlier than they wanted it to this time around. After falling to the Capitals in round 2 the Penguins ended their long run of success in the playoffs. But with the end of the season comes locker room clean out day. Alot was said but the most telling was when GM Jim Rutherford said the team would look “different” next season.
Now this could mean minor moves or maybe no real moves at all. But Rutherford is known for his trades. If he can make a move that he believes can make his team better then he will not hesitate to pull the trigger.
Many Penguins had great seasons and some struggled. These struggles could’ve been by injury, fit or just a down year. Here are some players that could be on the hot seat heading into the season.
Hunwick is signed for 2 more years with a cap hit of 2.25 per year. That’s a big amount for a player that struggled to find a role this season. He eventually lost his spot to Ruewedel who started instead of Hunwick for the entire playoffs. If a team calls and would want Hunwicks services I believe the Penguins trade him. He would provide cap relief and allow the Pens to put that money to use elsewhere. Hunwick will be traded this offseason if the Pens can find a team to take on his contract.
Sheary had an alright year for the Penguins. He wasnt as good as previous years but he struggled in the playoffs. Like most Penguins depth players he didn’t produce in the playoffs. He only had 2 points in 12 playoff games this season. At 3 million against the cap and young players like Sprong coming up this could lead to Sheary being expendable. Teams would want him with his experience and he is still young at only 25 years old.
Hagelin plays a big part on this team. He provides speed and energy to the team. He has also been the best penalty killer on the team since arriving from Anaheim. Well then the question is why is he on this list? Well purely on the fact that he accounts for 4 million against the cap next year. That’s a big price for a good penalty killer who chips in offensively less then you’d like at 4 million. Ultimately I think Hagelin stays but I included him because he could be an option and other teams would have interest. Not to mention Sully loves Hagelin and what he brings to the team. It’s an unlikely move but never say never.
Rust is a big contributor to the team. He adds penalty kill experience and chips in offensively. He can also move up and down the lineup and play on the power play if needed. He is a restricted free agent this offseason. He is on this list because of that reason and he could possibly provide more interest on the trade market. If Sheary is getting 3 million per year then Rust will at least get that amount. I believe if it comes down to having to move Rust or Sheary then Sheary will be the one moved. But I put Rust on here because he could be an option although I believe he stays and signs an extension this offseason.
Matt Murray is obviously the goalie and will be for a very long time. This is no surprise to anyone but who will be his backup. Well most of last season it was Casey Desmith instead of Tristain Jarry. Desmith did play well for when he was called upon. Jarry is younger and can develop into a good goalie in this league. This decision might be made this season but then again why not take both goalkeepers into training camp and figure it out then. But again if Rutherford finds a good deal over the summer and feels comfortable making that deal then he will ship one of the two off.
I know what your thinking “there is no way they do this!” Well your thought is probably right. The reason why I put him in this is because of his massive cap hit of 7.25 for 4 more seasons and his injury history. He would have massive value on the trade market. But then who replaces Letang if he would be traded? Well no one would give up a better player then Letang for Letang. On top of all of this Letnag just got the “A” on his Jersey this past season. So I dont see Letang being moved this offseason or anytime soon. Letang is a great player that just needs to clean up his game defensively some more. We would be worse without him then we are with him.
This offseason seems like it will be very active for the Penguins. Jim Rutherford seems like he will be busy again as the Penguins go for 3 cups in 4 years. Cap space will cause issues for the Penguins to make moves. They need to resign some of their own and add players through trade or free agency to bolster their roster. It’ll be a interesting offseason for this team as they continue to strive for greatness.