The Pittsburgh Penguins are expected to do some roster tweaking before the March 21 trade deadline as both Ron Hextall and Brian Burke want to change the narrative surrounding their team. Year after year ex-general manager Jim Rutherford would ship out assets near the deadline and the new management regime would love to keep all major pieces in tact and upgrade with “hockey deals”. While you shouldn’t expect to see rentals heading back to the Penguins they will be active. Let’s take a look at two Penguins who are expected to be moved before the deadline:
The speedy winger has found himself on the trade block as he winds through an up and down season. He’s a pending restricted free-agent who finds himself lower on the priority list for management as the Penguins also have Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, Evan Rodrigues and Bryan Rust who need to be extended. Resources are slim for next season and this has become a numbers game. Kapanen has recorded 24 points in 48 games and some have wondered if Pittsburgh has been using him properly as he went from being a penalty killing weapon for the Toronto Maple Leafs and meanwhile doesn’t get a lick on the PK for Mike Sullivan. There’s a number of teams who are interested in the 25-year-old including the Edmonton Oilers and Colorado Avalanche.
Zucker is currently sidelined as he recovers from core muscle surgery but he’s only a couple of weeks away. The trade deadline isn’t until late March and due to the Penguins cash constraints next season and his production since landing in Pittsburgh, Zucker is a prime trade candidate. The California native is making $5.5 million on the cap through next season and holds trade protection from 10 teams of his choice. In the 31 games he’s played in 2021-22, Zucker has recorded 13 points. Simply not good enough for someone making $5.5 million playing on a team’s second line. Look for Zucker to get moved in what’s likely more of a salary dump than anything. The Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks are teams to watch in the Zucker sweepstakes before the deadline.
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