When the Pittsburgh Penguins traded for Rickard Rakell, the expectations were pretty high. Management knew that the middle-six needed some reinforcements. The wingers at the time were hardly producing with too much reliance on Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. They thought that the answer to their problems lied with Rakell. So far, it looks like the Pittsburgh Penguins have been right as Rickard Rakell’s performance has been incredible.
Rakell was acquired from the Anaheim Ducks March 21. The Penguins, despite having a rough trade history, didn’t give up much. The trade was Rakell for Dominik Simon, Zach Aston-Reese, Calle Clang and a 2022 second round pick. The second-round pick was arguably the most valuable asset, as the Penguins have great depth and a fantastic goaltender prospect pool. Overall, the trade was fantastic.
However, nobody ever knows how well the player will pan out. For example, fans were beyond excited when the Penguins acquired Jason Zucker as there was huge upside. Although Zucker is an incredibly useful member of the squad, he hasn’t put up the numbers he was estimated to put up. To add insult to injury, the Minnesota Wild were able to draft one of the more highly touted defensemen of the draft in Carson Lambos. So, it was fair for fans to be skeptical.
Rakell’s performance on the ice has eased anyone’s doubt, thankfully. So far, he’s only played in 11 games since the trade, and he has three goals and eight points. Considering it’s a pretty massive change of scenery for Rakell, his performance has been incredible. To add on to that, their latest game against the Nashville Predators showed that Rakell and Crosby may have great chemistry.
Crosby and Rakell contributed for every single goal the Penguins scored. Crosby scored two goals, both of which were assisted by Rakell. Then, Zucker also scored with the primary and secondary assists going to Crosby and Rakell, respectively. With these factors considered, head coach Mike Sullivan may have some decisions to make in the coming games.
This type of chemistry doesn’t come around often. So, one new line combination that could be a result of this chemistry is Crosby with Rakell and Jake Guentzel at the wings. That’d be an incredible first line, but then again, it’d be difficult to take Bryan Rust away from the line. They’ve been incredible together all year. There’s always the chance that Rust meshes well with Evgeni Malkin on the second line, but that could end up being a gamble.
Despite having a rough go of things lately, the future of the season could be pretty bright for Pittsburgh. Things look like they’re finally starting to click better than they have been. The offense is showing more urgency than they have been, and it couldn’t come at a better time as the Penguins are poised to secure a playoff spot. If they perform well next game, then their season is going to be extended. Ideally, Rickard Rakell’s performance stays incredible for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
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