The Pittsburgh Penguins made a deal ahead of the trade freeze, acquiring Michael Leighton and a 2019 fourth-round pick (originally Minnesota’s) from the Arizona Coyotes. They’ll send back Josh Archibald, Sean Maguire and a 2019 sixth-round pick. Leighton will join his third organization of the season, after already being dealt from Tampa Bay to Arizona earlier this year.
While Leighton has a long history in professional hockey, he hasn’t played well during his tumultuous season so far and is an interesting move for a club that had reportedly been after goaltending depth. The fact that Maguire—younger and performing better in his split ECHL/AHL season—is going the other way means it’s not a clear upgrade in terms of raw talent in net.
Archibald, who may be the only player in the deal to spend any more time in the NHL this season, is a 25-year old undersized forward without a ton of upside. Though he was an excellent college player, Archibald hasn’t been able to find much success at the professional level.
For Pittsburgh, the upside to this deal isn’t readily apparent. While they do drop a contract of their roster limit, they already had quite a few spots free. Moving up a couple of rounds in the draft and gaining some minor league experience in net is at least worth something, but Archibald is a useful extra player and Maguire clearly has more upside than Leighton at this point in their respective careers.
We’ll have to wait and see what Pittsburgh has in store, which could potentially include another goaltender move or something that needed Archibald’s active roster spot. The young forward isn’t waiver-exempt any longer, meaning Pittsburgh could have lost him if they tried to send him to the minor leagues.