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Rickard Rakell day, to sign or not to sign

June 7, 2022, 9:14 AM ET [40 Comments]
Ryan Wilson
Pittsburgh Penguins Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Today is June 7th so let’s talk about one of Pittsburgh’s pending free agents, Rickard Rakell. The Penguins desperately needed some help with depth scoring and right before the trade deadline ended they closed on a deal with Anaheim to acquire the versatile winger. It was a good piece of business for Ron Hextall. He was able to shed Zach Aston-Reese and Dominik Simon while only using a second-round pick and Calle Clang as far as futures go. This was exactly what the team needed. Injuries to Rakell, Crosby, and Jarry derailed the team in round one from what would have been a likely series win. Rakell is now a free agent. So now what?

If you take this at face value you have a player who understands the Penguins have to deal with some other situations before they circle back to him. Even with a player open to letting a team figure out some of their other pieces first it doesn’t mean it will be an easy situation to come to a deal. I figure Rakell will want/deserve close to ~5M. It will probably be a four- or five-year deal. I think there’s a path to this contract even with Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang signed. It would take a lot of heavy lifting by a GM more known for his lack of moves. Brian Dumoulin, Kasperi Kapanen, and Brock McGinn are some of the cap hits the team should be looking to move away from to create the space for someone like Rakell. Marcus Pettersson is another player who they could entertain moving, but I’d rather focus on Dumoulin first. Unfortunately, the Jack Johnson buyout looms large this offseason as his cap hit will be 1.9M next year which muddies the water.

As a player Rakell fit right in. I think he can play well with Crosby or Malkin. He can play on either side. He’s the kind of player who fits their timeline. In his limited time (277 minutes) with the Penguins he had an xGF% of 56.17 and a CF% of 54.01. His points per 60 at 5v5 was 2.38. You can’t ask for much more out of a player like Rakell. These are really good numbers. I think even with a drop from here he would still be worth the money. When you look at the market I’m not sure how much better you’re going to do than Rakell who you know fits in with your team and who seemingly would like to come back.

The Penguins need to prioritize the skilled players (Malkin, Letang, Rakell). To do so they need to be very active and move some mid-tier contracts. They might even have to contemplate using some draft capital to shave the 2022-23 1.9M Johnson buyout (and the next three years of 916k) to make things happen. The timeline is the timeline. Either the Penguins are in or they’re out. This tip toeing the middle line is pointless. Go for it. Rakell should be a part of it. He can be if the Penguins are proactive and prioritize the right things.

Thanks for reading!
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