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Penguins Could Be Open to Jake Guentzel Trade This Offseason

With a focus on getting more rugged and deeper, the Penguins might be open to trading Jake Guentzel this offseason.

It’s clear the Pittsburgh Penguins will be making changes to their roster this offseason. Most insiders believe the disappointing elimination at the hands of the New York Islanders, along with the fact new management has a different vision for this team, virtually guarantees some players will be moved.

While speculation will surround the Penguins big three in Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang, the more likely trades are going to come in the form of the Penguins depth positions. A highly-skilled player like forward Jake Guentzel could be a casualty of the Penguins new agenda, specifically as Brian Burke and Ron Hextall may be tempted to add size and truculence before the 2021-22 NHL season rolls around.

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Mark Madden of TribLive.com writes:

Guentzel is 26, a gifted offensive talent and affordable at a cap hit of $6 million. But after seeing Guentzel get battered and bullied in the playoffs, it’s not hard to imagine him being swapped for a different kind of forward, like when the Penguins traded smooth, skilled James Neal for burly, rugged Patric Hornqvist in 2014.

The immediate question will be why did the Penguins trade Hornqvist if their plan is to pick up a player like Hornqvist. Fair question. The answer might be, that it wasn’t Burke and Hextall who traded him. The better question is why would the Penguins want to trade a 26-year-old who seems to be able to score at will? As the Penguins age, he’s potentially one of their core players who could be around as the team moves in another direction.

Coach Mike Sullivan is on the hot seat after the way he coached this team to a first-round series loss. GM Ron Hextall and president of hockey ops Brian Burke won’t be pleased that he didn’t adjust to the games being heavier and that he made no changes against the Islanders until the series was out of hand. The Crosby-Guentzel-Bryan Rust line kept getting sent out there to be physically overwhelmed. Thus, why there’s so much speculation a change is coming, especially in light of the news that Sullivan will not likely lose his job.

Will There Be a Market For Guentzel?

With three more seasons at $6 million on his deal, moving Guentzel will clear up some cap space for the Penguins to make other deals and could go a long way to helping them reshape their depth. But, that’s a lot of money in a flat salary cap era where players aren’t getting long-term deals at high-dollar values.

Jake Guentzel Pittsburgh Penguins possible trade piece

That said, this is an excellent forward who can score goals and has consistently done so with high-skilled talent around him. This season he potted 23 goals and 57 points in 56 games. The season prior, he had 43 points and 20 goals in 39 games. In 2018-19, he scored 40 goals to go with 76 points in 82 games. This is an offensive player who is a lock to produce at his salary.

If Guentzel does become available, there will be teams eager to add him and willing to play the $6 million he costs to get that kind of guaranteed goal production into their lineup.

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