Pittsburgh Penguins’ 2024 Trade and Buyout Strategies

The Pittsburgh Penguins need to make big changes to their team, as they have too many old players and bad contracts. Pittsburgh Penguins Trade and Buyout Strategies for 2024

General Manager Kyle Dubas wants to make the team younger and faster, but he has limited money to work with, so he needs to make smart trades and sign good free agents.

Key Takeaways:

  • The Penguins have less than $13 million in cap space, making it crucial for GM Kyle Dubas to make smart trades and free-agent signings to stay competitive.
  • Dubas aims to create a younger and faster team, but this is challenging due to the current roster’s aging players and bad contracts.
  • To achieve financial flexibility and align with his vision, Dubas needs to offload high salaries and improve the team’s depth through strategic trades.

Penguins’ Potential Trade Moves to Revitalize Their Roster

The Pittsburgh Penguins’ roster needs a big change. Even though they have star players, the team has too many bad contracts, older players, and not enough depth.

This goes against General Manager Kyle Dubas’ plan to make the team “younger and faster.” Since Dubas took over, he has focused on building a younger and quicker team, but it’s tough with the current roster.

The Penguins have just under $13 million in salary cap space for next season, which isn’t enough for a big free-agent spree.

Therefore, Dubas needs to make smart trades and sign the right free agents to stay competitive in the Eastern Conference. He must also create more financial flexibility by shedding some high salaries.

Reilly Smith Poised for Trade in Final Contract Year

Contract: One year remaining at a $5 million cap hit.

Smith is the most apparent candidate for a trade. After being traded from the Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights to Pittsburgh, Smith’s performance was lackluster.

He started strong and ended on a decent note, but his midseason slump and apparent disinterest were concerning.

Sources indicate Smith was unhappy about leaving Vegas, which affected his performance.

Dubas attempted to trade him before the March deadline but found no takers due to his then-two-year contract. With only one year remaining and a rising salary cap, Smith is expected to be traded this summer.

Rickard Rakell as a Logical Yet Unexpected Trade Prospect

Contract: Four years remaining at a $5 million cap hit.

Rakell is another player who could be on the move, although he’s not widely discussed as a trade option.

Despite ample playing time with stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, Rakell scored only 15 goals in 70 games last season. 

His age (31) and speed are also concerns. Rakell’s effectiveness is tied to a top-six role, which he might not fit into well anymore.

Crosby prefers Bryan Rust on his right wing, and Malkin isn’t particularly effective with Rakell. Dubas might find a team willing to take on Rakell’s contract, although it’s not guaranteed.

Tristan Jarry Stands Out as a Great Trade Candidate

Contract: Four years remaining at $5.375 million annually.

Jarry’s situation is complex. Although he’s likely to stay, his future isn’t secure. Benched for the season’s final month, Jarry wasn’t even played in the season finale. This indicates a lack of confidence in him.

Despite his talents, Jarry’s inconsistency and injury history are concerns. With several teams needing goaltenders, Jarry could attract interest if the Penguins decide to trade him.

His contract could be better utilized to fill other gaps in the lineup, making his status a focal point this offseason.

Ryan Graves: A Potential, Yet Improbable Trade Option

Contract: Five years remaining at an annual cap hit of $4.5 million.

Graves had a disappointing season, and the Penguins would be pleased to offload his salary. Despite his potential as a top-four defenseman, his recent performance has been poor. 

If a team is willing to take a chance on Graves, even with the Penguins retaining some salary, Dubas would likely consider it. 

However, this scenario is less probable given the widespread cap constraints and Graves’ recent form.

Considering Further Trade Options Amid Clauses

While other high-earning players could be considered for trades, full no-trade clauses complicate moves for stars like Malkin and Kris Letang.

Dubas has also committed to keeping Rust and Erik Karlsson, who he believes are more valuable on the team than as trade assets.

Goaltender Market and Potential Buyouts

If the Penguins place Tristan Jarry on the market, he will likely attract significant interest.

However, Dubas might also explore the NHL buyout market to stretch the team’s salary cap space. Potential buyout candidates include:

Torey Krug

Krug has three years left on his contract with a $6.5 million cap hit. If bought out, Krug could become an affordable option for the Penguins, adding depth and power-play assistance.

Barclay Goodrow

With one year left on his $3.64 million contract, Goodrow could be bought out by the New York Rangers. He would add grit and penalty-killing prowess to the Penguins’ bottom six.

Elvis Merzlikins/Spencer Knight

Both goalies are struggling with high salaries. Buying out their contracts could provide the Penguins with a low-cost reclamation project, enhancing their goaltending depth.

Strengthening the Penguins for Competitive Edge

This offseason is critical for the Pittsburgh Penguins, who are restructuring and gaining a competitive edge in the Eastern Conference.

By making smart trades and exploring buyout options, Kyle Dubas aims to create a team that is financially flexible and ready to compete at a higher level.

This approach will help the Penguins clear salary cap space, bring in new talent, and build a roster capable of making a strong playoff push next season.