The Pittsburgh Penguins are at a standstill at this point in the off-season. The big moves on the defense have already happened, and it seems management may be standing pat until closer to training camp to make any other moves.
While the defense core looks to be an area of strength for the Penguins this season, the forward depth appears to be the opposite. With the team being up against the salary cap, the best option to boost bottom-six production is through a trade. Here are five options for the Penguins to look into acquiring.
The former second-round pick of the Anaheim Ducks should be a prime target for the Penguins. At 23 years old, he is a season removed from a breakout 16-goal and 33-point campaign. Last year, he struggled in a reduced role and saw his play and production plummet. He put up only six goals and 16 points.
Comtois is a stocky, 6'2" winger who can play physically and has untapped offensive potential. He is in the last year of his current contract, which pays him just over $2 million, and will be a restricted free agent after this season. General manager Ron Hextall should buy low on this player and hope a change of scenery is just what Comtois needs to break out again.
Standing out in Arizona can be a difficult challenge, but that's what Travis Boyd accomplished last season. Because of his performance, the Penguins should take a long look at acquiring the versatile bottom-six forward.
Boyd just put up a career-high 17 goals in the desert and parlayed that into a two-year deal with the Coyotes with a cap hit of only $1.75 million. He can play both center and wing and is a reliable penalty killer. He'd add a steady presence to the bottom six while also being a productive player on the offensive end.
The biggest option available (literally) for the Penguins is 6'6" forward Michael Rasmussen of the Detroit Red Wings. The 23-year-old has seen continual improvement at the NHL level and most recently set career highs in goals, assists, and points this past season (15 goals, 12 assists, 27 points). With both center and wing capabilities, Rasmussen would bring a little of everything to the Penguin's bottom six.
He can score and would add a net front presence to the power play units. He's also adept defensively and would give head coach Mike Sullivan another penalty killing option. Rasmussen is under contract for this upcoming season and the following one at a modest cap hit of $1.4 million.
The Red Wings are looking to take the next step and might be unwilling to deal with their depth players, but if things take a turn, expect Hextall to make a call or two on this player.
The Pittsburgh Penguins and Warren Foegele feel like a good match. The Edmonton Oilers forward and former draft choice of the Carolina Hurricanes is a prototypical bottom six player.
Foegele skates hard, chips in 10-15 goals, and seems to always be around the puck. He is signed for the next two seasons at a slightly bloated $2.75 million cap hit, but he would bring much needed production to the Penguin's bottom six.
The future Hall of Famer Zach Parise might be an under the radar target to join Sid and company as the oldest team in the league. At 37, he is far from the player he was in his prime, but he is fresh off of a 15-goal season with the New York Islanders. Parise is a respected veteran who can still skate and put the puck in the net.
He has also never won a Stanley Cup and would bring playoff desperation to any team he's on. Adding another aging veteran is unlikely to be the best option, but Hextall's propensity to acquire older players improves the chances that Parise is a future Pittsburgh Penguin.
The Pittsburgh Penguins need another scorer to pair with Jeff Carter or Teddy Blueger. Until they do, the bottom six will continue to be an area of need. If Hextall can make a move to get one of these five players, however, the Penguins can instantly improve their forward depth.
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