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Penguins Targeting Hometown Players This Off-Season?

Are the Pittsburgh Penguins considering pursuing Pittsburgh area players this summer?

In a report on the Pittsburgh Penguins by The Athletic's Josh Yohe, he touched on two potential targets for the team this summer: JT Miller and Vincent Trocheck. Both players were born in Pittsburgh and stay here in the offseason. With the draft and free agency just weeks away, the Penguins are in a precarious position with their top six forwards. They still have not re-signed Evgeni Malkin and are getting closer and closer to losing him once free agency begins. Are either of these players with Pittsburgh ties a suitable replacement for Malkin?

Vincent Trocheck

The Pittsburgh Penguins have been linked to Vincent Trocheck for several seasons. The soon to be 29 year old was rumored to be on the Penguins' radar while he was in Florida, and he may be on the top of their wishlist this offseason.

Trocheck is a prototypical two-way center. He is ideally suited to play as a second line center, but there are debates about whether he is a better fit as a second or third line pivot. What isn't up for debate is the combination of tenacity, speed, and skill he brings every night. This past season, he put up 21 goals and 30 assists for 51 points while pitching in an additional 10 points in 14 playoff games. Trocheck's career-high of 75 points was back in 2017-18 with Florida, but besides that, he is a regular 50-60 point player.

His style of play is an excellent fit for the system coach Mike Sullivan prefers to deploy. He would add another power play and penalty killing option, potentially improving their struggling special teams. The fans and management are also already aware of his talent and hometown connection, making the calls for Trocheck even more abundant.

What would it take to get Trocheck to the Pittsburgh Penguins? He is likely looking for $6 million or more per season on his next deal. With reports coming out this week of GM Ron Hextall playing hardball on term and dollars with Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang, it stands to reason Hextall may be unwilling to offer a large contract to a free agent. However, if the Penguins want to add a player that can immediately improve their top 6 forward situation, Trocheck remains an option.

JT Miller

The Pittsburgh Penguins have had an eye on JT Miller since his draft year in 2011. His skill and potential left him no chance to fall to his hometown team, ultimately being selected 15th overall by the New York Rangers. Having played nearly a decade in the league, Miller has finally started to round himself into a borderline elite player.

This past season with the Vancouver Canucks, JT Miller exploded offensively. He put up career highs in goals, assists, and points (32-67-99) while being the Canucks best skater all year. He is entering the final year of his contract, and Vancouver management is playing coy on their intentions with Miller.

Miller is a top-line center in this league and has all the tools and skills to play 20 minutes a night and in all situations. He has an incredible wrist shot and top-notch passing skills. His talent is most notable on the power-play, posting eight goals and 38 points this past season. Miller does everything right on the ice and is the type of player that could help extend the championship window of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The cost for the Penguins to acquire JT Miller would most likely be huge. Miller's name has been in the rumor mill for some time, with teams reportedly dangling highly prized prospects in return. The Penguins do not have the younger resources to entice Vancouver and would have to work out another deal. Canucks President and former Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford has been upfront about his current team's need for blue line help. Perhaps one of John Marino or PO Joseph could be a start to the negotiating process?

It is no secret that the Penguins are in the market for improvements throughout the lineup. If they don't retain Malkin, their top six will be decimated. Focusing their attention on acquiring a player like JT Miller or Vincent Trocheck could help ease that blow. If the Penguins do retain Malkin, they still are in the same position of needing to improve. Either way, the Penguins may be wise to spend more time focusing on how to get one, or both, of these hometown players, in the black and gold. 

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