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The Pittsburgh Penguins: Looking at who could be on the move amidst another disappointing season

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Photo credit:Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Ryley Delaney
1 month ago
The decline of the Pittsburgh Penguins is sad a one indeed, as Sid the Kid is nearing his 40s and the team’s long-time core players, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang, are also getting close to twilight, as well.
To give Crosby and the core one last shot at a Stanley Cup, they moved significant assets to acquire/rescue the reigning Norris Trophy winner, Erik Karlsson, from the San Jose Sharks. Unfortunately, things haven’t worked and it appears the Penguins will miss the playoffs in back-to-back seasons. 
This is a series called Meet the Sellers. As the Edmonton Oilers are in a “Stanley Cup or Bust” year, we’re going to look at the teams who have no other aspirations this season other than adding some prospects and picks and jockeying for a better position in the 2024 Draft Lottery.
Before heading to Antarctica (Pittsburgh) to look at the Penguins, let’s take a look at the needs of the Edmonton Oilers.
Second-pairing right-shot defenceman: If the Oilers were to upgrade their defence, a logical upgrade would be by moving Cody Ceci along with other assets to net a second-pairing right-shot defenceman. It’s not that Ceci is a bad defender by any means, it’s just that he’s probably better suited to the third pairing.
Second-line winger: Instead of loading up the first line with Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDaivd, the Oilers should look to add a second-line winger – on either side – to play alongside Draisaitl on the second line. It’s clear he doesn’t have chemistry with Evander Kane, and pairing him with Ryan McLeod and Warren Foegele isn’t ideal for a contender.
Right-shot defenceman depth: Last season, the Oilers had Jason Demers in the American Hockey League as a backup plan if a right-shot defenceman got injured. Thankfully, the Oilers remained relatively healthy that season and have barely missed any games from their defence this season, but they don’t have a veteran right-shot defenceman in the minors this year. It doesn’t help that Philip Broberg has missed time with an injury and could be out for two to three more weeks.
A “1B” goaltender: This season, starter Stuart Skinner has a .905 save percentage and a 2.64 goals-against average in 44 games played. Calvin Pickard has a .905 save percentage and a 2.53 goals-against average in 11 games played. Skinner has had hot and cold streaks, but Pickard probably isn’t the type of backup you’d want on a contender. However, it’s been reported that the Oilers aren’t looking to add a goalie at this year’s deadline… Still a need though.
Third-line centre: The least of the Oilers’ needs as they have McLeod there, it appears that the team sees this as one of their biggest needs, as they’ve been linked to Nic Dowd and Adam Henrique. At least if they get a third-line centre, they can move McLeod to Draisaitl’s wing where he excelled.

Who could the Pittsburgh Penguins sell:

As it stands, the Penguins have a 27-22-8 record with 62 points. They are seven points back of the Philadelphia Flyers with four games in hand, and are eight points back of the Tampa Bay Lightning for the final Wild Card spot, with five games in hand. Regardless, they’ll still need to jump four teams in either race. Selling may be the option for this season.
Jake Guentzel is arguably the best winger on the market, as he’s hit the 40-goal plateau twice in his career. This season, he has 22 goals and 52 points and was on pace for 36 goals prior to an injury that’ll keep him out until around the trade deadline. The 29-year-old has a cap hit of $6 million and is a pending unrestricted free agent. His contract has a 12-team no-trade list
Reilly Smith was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins from the Vegas Golden Knights due to there being a salary cap after the postseason. In his first season with the Penguins, the 32-year-old winger has 10 goals and 25 points, far behind his pace of 26 goals and 56 points with Vegas last season. Having been with Vegas since the start, Smith has played in numerous playoffs, reaching 19 or more games three times. Smith has a $5 million cap hit until the end of the 2024-25 season, along with a 10-team no-trade list.
Lars Eller has been in the league for a while, but has 11 goals and 20 points and is on pace for 15 goals and 28 points. The left-shot centre has playoff experience like many others in this article, but actually won his cup with the Washington Capitals back in 2018. In 103 playoff games, he has 15 goals and 49 points in 103 games. Moreover, he has term left on his deal as his contract ends in 2025-26 with a cap hit of $2.45 million. He’d be a good pick-up for the third line.
Jeff Carter isn’t the player he used to be, as he has just six goals and eight points in 51 games this season. It makes sense, as he’s 39 and on the decline, but he did score 19 goals and 45 points two seasons ago with Pittsburgh. Moreover, he has 133 games of playoff experience, scoring 47 goals and 84 points and picking up two cups with the Los Angeles Kings. The experience could be valuable and he has a $3.125 cap hit until the end of the season, but a no-move clause complicates things.
Chad Ruhwedel has just a goal and four points in 43 games this season, with a career-high four goals and 13 points in 78 games during the 2021-22 season. This is to say you’re getting a depth defenceman who has some cup experience, having been on the Penguins team that won it all in 2017 but played just four games in that run. Ruhwedel has a cap hit of $800,000 and will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.
Alex Nedeljkovic could be a perfect backup netminder for the Oilers, as the 28-year-old has a .915 save percentage and a 2.67 goals-against average in 19 games played. He has experience starting, as he led the awful 2021-22 Red Wings with 59 games played, having a great start, but eventually getting tired and finishing the season posting a .901 save percentage and a 3.31 goals-against average. Nedeljkovic is a pending unrestricted free agent and has a cap hit of $1.5 million.

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