Believe it or not, it’s crunch time for the Pittsburgh Penguins. They are effectively running out of time to make a change before the season starts. Why do they need a change? It’s pretty obvious from their postseason performance in recent years that a certain part of the lineup needs to be reevaluated. One part of this lineup is defenseman Marcus Pettersson. He’s been the topic of trade rumors for a while and now that the offseason is coming to an end, management may pull the trigger on a trade soon.
Pettersson’s Career So Far
Pettersson was drafted 38th overall in the 2014 draft by the Anaheim Ducks. He made his debut in the 2017-2018 season, and only played 49 games for the Ducks until he was traded in December 2018 to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Daniel Sprong. When this trade went down, fans were a little uneasy as Sprong looked like an up-and-coming top-six forward.
However, Pettersson’s performance was solid for the Penguins. In his first season with Pittsburgh, he played 57 games and put up a respectable 19 points. In his second season, he was noticeably better with 22 points in 69 games. His performance earned him a hefty five year, $20 million contract doled out by the infamous former general manager Jim Rutherford. Things were looking up for the Penguins as they thought they just locked up a solid two-way defender.
Unfortunately, Pettersson did not live up to his contract. In 47 games he put up nine points and was a +8. Now, this is still solid play, but by no means is this $4.025 million per year solid. It gets worse when his playoff performance is put into consideration. In 14 total playoff games with the Penguins, he has a measly two assists. Not only that, but he is also a -1 overall with the Penguins, meaning he doesn’t do much to prevent goals. It’s clear that Pettersson doesn’t have a whole lot of time left in Pittsburgh.
Possible Trades For Pettersson
As always, it comes down to two routes the Penguins could go when they make any sort of trade. The first route, and more likely of the two, is to remain in win-now mode. With Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang getting older, their remaining window to win is short. To remain in win-now mode means trading for NHL caliber players to do whatever is necessary to win. The second route is simply to look to the future and acquire prospects and draft picks so a rebuild won’t be too painful.
As stated above, if the Penguins were to trade Pettersson the return more than likely would be a NHL caliber player. The offense is seemingly solid with the exception of some unknown factors on the third line, so the Penguins may look to further bolster the defense. With that, they could use Pettersson and some draft picks for a rental in Mattias Ekholm from the Nashville Predators. Unfortunately, Pittsburgh wouldn’t be able to re-sign him after next season. However, Ekholm could be the key to a long and fortuitous playoff run.
The unlikely route for the Penguins is also the more boring option as they would ideally acquire some draft picks for Pettersson. If another team would be willing, the addition of a prospect would be amazing for the organization as the current prospect pool is fairly dry. Either way, Pettersson’s time in Pittsburgh is looking like it’s over. Now it’s just a matter of time before he is traded.
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