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Penguins miss out on buyer's market

October 13, 2020, 11:26 AM ET [310 Comments]
Ryan Wilson
Pittsburgh Penguins Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The Pittsburgh Penguins made most of their bigger moves earlier in the offseason and at the moment it looks like it was a big mistake. When you look around the league at teams cutting salary and giving away players it really makes you wonder what could have been for this offseason.

Pittsburgh’s big moves included trading a 15th overall and Filip Hillander for Kasperi Kapanen and moving Patric Hornqvist’s bad contract for Mike Matheson’s bad contract. If the team was able to see the current marketplace coming would they make those trades again? Perhaps Rutherford would because he drafted Kapanen, but it wouldn’t be the right choice.

Kasperi Kapnanen and Andreas Johnsson are not far off in value from one another. It was well known the Maple Leafs were in a cap crunch and needed to cut salary. Yet, the Penguins paid a premium for Kapanen while the Devils only had to give up an AHL player to acquire Johnsson. There is a huge gap in value from what the Penguins paid and what the Devils paid. By spending the first round pick on a player that could have been had for way less the Penguins limited their ability to be productive this offseason. How many things could the Penguins have done given in this market if they were able to get rid of Patric Hornqvist’s contract without taking on an unneeded bottom pairing defender making 4.5M? Using the 15th overall pick to shed Hornqvist’s contract without taking back another bad contract would have been less than ideal, but it would have been better than using it on Kapanen and it would have opened up a lot of interesting possibilities for the Penguins to take advantage of in this buyer’s market.

Tampa Bay couldn’t give Tyler Johnson away for free. His contract isn’t great, either. He does however fill a need for the Penguins. Pittsburgh could probably recover a quality draft pick just by trading for Johnson’s contract and plug a much needed hole in the lineup. Overpaying for players is never optimal. However, overpaying for players who don't fill a need in the lineup versus overpaying for a player who fills a very specific and important need is way different. Overpaying Tyler JOhnson makes a lot more sense for a team like the Penguins than dropping 8M on a bottom pairing defender and a fourth liner.

If the Penguins don’t have Hornqvist, Tanev, Matheson or Sceviour’s contracts what kind of conversation could they have had with Taylor Hall? Both Crosby and Malkin would have elite wingers and McCann has someone like Zucker. I’m not even saying the Penguins needed to go after a player like Hall, but having the potential to have a conversation about a difference maker would have been nice. He signed a one-year deal with the Buffalo Sabres for crying out loud. The Penguins couldn't have benefited from having a conversation? Instead, the Penguins were already priced out of an advantageous buyer’s market.

We’ve seen players like Tyler Toffoli, Jesper Fast, and Craig Smith all sign for deals lower than their perceived value. All players who could contribute towards the Penguins becoming more like the 2015-16 team that dominated the Stanley Cup Playoffs. We’ve seen defensemen like Kevin, Shattenkirk, Tyson Barrie, Erik Gustafsson, Trevor van Riemsdyk, Mark Pysyk, Jon Merrill, and Troy Stecher, all sign for reasonable deals to fill out depth. I wasn’t interested in Chris Tanev or bringing back Justin Schultz, but even they come in cheaper than Mike Matheson who the Penguins will pay a premium for despite already having two decent top four options on the left side.

It’s really tough to look around the league and see the business being done and think the Penguins nailed this offseason. Adding Matheson, Kapanen, Mark Jankowski, Colton Sceviour, and Evan Rodrigues is really underwhelming for what could have been.

It seems weird one of the most active general managers in the sport sat idly in the best buyer’s market in a long time. The Penguins are not better for it.

Thanks for reading!
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