This week, the Pittsburgh Penguins made a huge splash in the first day of the free-agent frenzy when they acquired Phil Kessel in a six player, three pick exchange with the Toronto Maple Leafs. That being said, patience have worn thin in Pittsburgh as the last six years haven’t met expectations and for this club moving towards the immediate future, the time is now.
Unfortunately, the Penguins are once again left with depth issues that date back to the days of former general manager Ray Shero making ridiculous trades on a regular basis that present day continues to hamstring this franchise. Without knowing the recent trade history of the Penguins, this looks to be a huge steal for this organization, who got an elite goal scorer for a package of maybes. However, we do know the recent trade history of the Pittsburgh Penguins and this team continues to trade away its future.
Look, make no mistake about it, the Penguins top-six forwards are arguably the best in the National Hockey League today, but this latest trade really clouds the foreseeable future of this franchise and puts even more pressure on this team to win now. Furthermore, with Kasperi Kapenen, the former 2014 first-round pick along with the 2016 first-round pick now gone, the Penguins last first-round pick still in the fold is Derrick Pouliot in 2012.
After this blockbuster trade, the Penguins have about $6.5 million in cap space to add a couple of forwards, one or two defenseman, and a backup goaltender to fill out their roster. That being said, general manager Jim Rutherford will have to get very creative to ensure this team has insurance in case of any injuries during the season. Speaking of injuries, which are a common-place in the sport, the Penguins over the last few years have been absolutely crippled to man-games lost to injury.
That being said, this team’s offense and defense are drastically different in regards to overall talent especially when you consider that Kris Letang and Olli Maata, the top two defensemen for the Penguins, have dealt with health issues over the past year. While Maatta should be fully recovered from his thyroid cancer treatment, Letang is coming off of his fourth concussion since 2012 and is one big hit away from having his career in jeopardy. However, on paper, one cannot deny that the Penguins are simply loaded with unbelievable talent that should make for a very exciting upcoming season.
In closing, you have to give the Pittsburgh Penguins a ton of credit for making this trade. While this trade does in fact continue to deplete this team’s future as previously mentioned, the Pittsburgh Penguins present day aren’t thinking about the future, the time is now.
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Derek Markovitz