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Penguins trade Jared McCann for nothing to avoid losing him for nothing

July 17, 2021, 4:47 PM ET [180 Comments]
Ryan Wilson
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The Pittsburgh Penguins are off to quite a terrible start as far as the expansion draft is concerned. All they had to do was sit back and let the Kraken take a 4th line player and they couldn’t do it. Instead, they have traded away Jared McCann to the Toronto Maple Leafs for some magic beans.

“You see we had to trade Jared McCann for nothing so we don’t lose him to Seattle for nothing”


“They weren’t going to protect him anyways”

That isn’t the argument you think it is. He 100% should have been protected and he definitely shouldn’t have been traded before the expansion draft. I cannot overstate how incredibly misguided this decision is. It reminds me of the NFL coaches who spend 18 hours a day in the office scheming up fantastical plans of grandeur with tunnel vision while not being able to get the basics right on game day.

For a second let’s give the benefit of the doubt to Ron Hextall and Brian Burke. They were afraid the Kraken were going to take Jared McCann and they would lose him for nothing, fine. Except, you just lost Jared McCann for what ultimately amounts to nothing and now Seattle gets to take yet another player from you! Even if Filip Hallander can play in the NHL he isn’t likely going to do a damn thing to help Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. You’ll notice the 7th round pick isn’t until 2023(!) so even if that pick turns out like Patric Hornqvist the player won’t be hitting the league until the two legends are likely retired.

All the Penguins had to do was let Seattle take a 4th line player. That’s it. They would have won their battle with Seattle in the expansion draft. Now they are down a 2nd/3rd line player who has a great shot, great underlying defensive metrics, can play on the top power play, and can play both center and wing because... reasons? Oh and by the way it only cost 2.9M. Holy cow.

Even if you didn’t want to give McCann his next contract (and there is a valid argument for not wanting to do that) you cannot give this player away for peanuts during Crosby and Malkin’s last kicks at the can. Let him start the season with you. Trade him at a later time for an actual return. Let him play the whole season out and then qualify him at the end of the year. (qualifying doesn’t mean you have to come to an agreement just you hold his rights). Dare somebody to give him an offer sheet. None of those scenarios could be any worse than rushing this deal through so you can protect replaceable or vastly overpaid fourth liners. McCann was a very effective player for his cap hit and his flexibility to play the center position was/is greatly needed to start the year with Malkin out. Now there’s a hole in the middle six of the lineup for no reason at all. The odds of taking the savings from the McCann deal and finding a better value in free agency is slim even if the team cuts salary in other areas. They took what could have been a complete non-issue (Seattle taking a 4th line player or pricey defenseman) and have now created more holes in the lineup.

Perhaps, Hextall and Burke have a master plan here and this is just the first step, but they’d better have a damn good plan and execute it because there is absolutely no room for error anymore, none. Any misstep from here forward could be the one that slams the window shut on this era. If the window isn’t closed already...

Thanks for reading!
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