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NHL Notebook: Should the Pittsburgh Penguins trade forward Jake Guentzel and what the PWHL may name their annual awards
10 days ago
With the NHL’s trade deadline less than a month away, we’ve already seen one big name off the trade board with Elias Lindholm heading from the Calgary Flames to the Vancouver Canucks. Another big name, however, could vault up boards, if the Pittsburgh Penguins were to trade pending free agent Jake Guentzel.
The Penguins are currently five points away from being within playoff contention with 53 points in 48 games while holding a 60 percent chance at making it into the postseason.
If GM Kyle Dubas were to make Guentzel available, he could garner them a significant return, likely in the form of a first-round pick, a prospect and an NHL roster player. But on the other hand, moving the 29-year-old game-breaker could end an era in Pittsburgh that saw him help the Penguins win a Stanley Cup in 2017, and be Sidney Crosby’s wingman.
Earlier this month, Guentzel was rumoured to have been in talks with the Penguins on a six-year contract extension that was denied. The forward addressed the rumours by saying, “From my end there’s been no talks of any sorts,” Guentzel said. “I’m just trying to play hockey and that’s all I’ve worried about.”
Guentzel is in the final year of the five-year $30 million contract he signed back in 2018. He’s reached the 50-point mark this season with 22 goals and 51 points in 48 games and is set to become a free agent at the end of the 2023-24 campaign.
Daily Faceoff contributors did a round table to find the answer to a simple question: what do you do?
Almost every contributing scribe agreed that the smartest move for the Penguins to make would be to shop the forward.
“The Penguins are going to do their damnedest to stay relevant as long as they have Crosby, Malkin, and Letang in tow, but Kyle Dubas is smart enough to realize that the real inflection point will be after those three are gone,” said Mike Gould.
“It’s time to start stockpiling so the team can transition as seamlessly as possible into a new core once this one is gone. Guentzel should be able to command a princely sum on the trade market.”
Most of their opinions were based on the impact on the Penguins’ core group consisting of Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, and Kris Letang. However, as Matt Larkin stated, Crosby is still playing well and is smart enough to know this team is heading towards a rebuild.
Getting high picks in the upcoming draft and adding a high-end prospect or two wouldn’t be a bad idea. However, Scott Maxwell isn’t as sure the Penguins will get the return they hope for.
“I just don’t see how it helps them try to win a Cup in the final years of this group, which is the team’s objective whether it’s the right one or not,” he said. “You’d be hard-pressed to find a player who will replace Guentzel’s production and value, even with him needing a new contract.
“At the end of the day, it will depend on if Dubas plans on re-signing Guentzel, because if he’s doesn’t then it makes sense to move on, but if they can work out a deal, I’d look into it, because Guentzel is the kind of player that maximizes whatever hope the Pens have of winning a Cup with this group.”
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Picking the PWHL awards names
With the revolutionary inaugural season of the PWHL underway, at some point in time, the season will come to an end, and awards will eventually be handed out to players just as they are in the NHL.
The league will announce what trophies for both teams and individual players will be awarded at the season’s end, including potential names.
The PWHL has yet to release the number of trophies to be handed out or what they will signify. But Daily Faceoff’s Tyler Kuehl and Hunter Crowther speculated a list of names that could be selected to go along with a respected award.
Championship Trophy: Billie Jean King Trophy
Yes, Billie Jean King did not play hockey, but she has been a massive supporter of female athletes. She is a large part of the reason why the PWHL exists, supporting its athletes and franchises every step of the way.
She is an iconic female athlete, winning 39 Grand Slam titles and 12 singles majors, and a pioneer in putting women’s sports on the radar with the Battle of the Sexes. Billie Jean King lives her life with the principal values of equality, empowerment, and access.
Rookie of the Year: Decker Award
Brianna Decker was a part of the elite U.S. class that won two Under-18 tournaments, with an additional 11 points in her first World Championships.
Decker amassed a handful of achievements, including an NCAA championship (2010-11), the Patty Kazmaier award (Top Collegiate Player, 2011-12), a CWHL Championship and Rookie of the Year award (2014-15), an Olympic gold medal (2017-18), and an Olympic silver medal (2021-22).
Scoring Champion: Wickenheiser Award
Hayley Wickenheiser may just be one of the greatest athletes of all time. From Calgary, Alta., Wickenheiser is Canada’s all-time leader in goals (168), assists (211), and points (379). She began playing for Canada at just 15 years old and has been its longest-serving member since. She has won four Olympic gold medals and one silver, marking her as one of the country’s most decorated athletes.
Alongside the lengthy list of accomplishments and awards Wickenheiser has received over the years, it’d be wrong not to name a PWHL award in her honour.
“I’m at an age where growing up, Haley Wickenheiser (was) the dominant player in women’s hockey,” wrote Crowther. “The goals, the points, the gold medals in both the Olympics and the World Championships, you would be hard pressed to find an achievement she hasn’t accomplished. I’ll go on the record right now saying she’ll be the first woman behind the bench in the NHL.”
Other awards Crowther and Kuehl decided on picking names to honour were:
- Goalie of the Year: Rhéaume Award
- Defender of the Year: Ruggiero Award
- Coach of the Year: Sauvageau Award
- Best Leader: Granato Award
- MVP: Angela James Award
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