The Pittsburgh Penguins have made another trade. The team has acquired forward Mikael Granlund from the Nashville Predators in exchange for a 2023 second-round pick.
Penguins GM Ron Hextall had the following to say about this trade:
Mikael is a versatile forward, able to play either wing or center, and contribute offensively. He has experience on both the power play and penalty kill and can add options to our lineup.
By acquiring Granlund, Pittsburgh has not only added an experienced top-six player to their lineup, but they have also signaled their intention to invest in this season’s Penguins team with the hope of going on a playoff run. While the Penguins remain in playoff position, the team has (recent three-game winning streak aside) stumbled as the calendar shifted to 2023.
Their struggles led to calls from fans and local media members alike for the organization to fire Hextall, but this trade indicates that the organization believes that the team’s underperformance is a bug, not a feature.
This season, Granlund has scored 36 points in 58 games, and averaged over 18 and a half minutes of ice time with some sporadic penalty-killing time. While his offensive production is down from last season, he scored 64 points last season and is under team control for another two seasons after this one at a $5MM cap hit that’s reasonable given his resume.
He’s not the ascending young player anymore that he was on the Minnesota Wild, and some underlying numbers have soured on him this year, it’s easy to see why the Penguins are optimistic about what he could bring to their lineup.
Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan has quite a few options for how to approach adding Granlund to his lineup and has to be thrilled to have a new, highly capable forward to work with. The 31-year-old Finn can play both at center and as a winger, and his well-respected two-way game gives him added on-ice versatility.
The Penguins could opt to have him replace Jeff Carter as the team’s third-line center, letting the 38-year-old vacate an everyday role in the midst of what has been a nightmare season. They could also shift Carter down to the fourth line in Blueger’s vacated spot, although one would think that offseason trade acquisition Ryan Poehling would be preferable there.
Sullivan could also keep Carter entrenched as the third-line center and use Granlund to shuffle the team’s top six. Since Evgeni Malkin has had his fair share of injury issues in recent years, Granlund’s ability to play center will be of significant value should Malkin find himself knocked out of the lineup.
At the price of a second-round pick, the Penguins have added a player who figures to make their team better for this season and for a few years to come. Is it the wisest move for a team to make when they’re widely seen as being a cut below the heavyweights of the Eastern Conference? Maybe not, especially seeing as Granlund hasn’t been as productive this season, and at 31 years old that could be a signal of an age-related decline.
But with Malkin, Sidney Crosby, and Kris Letang all inching deeper into their thirties, the Penguins are looking to maximize whatever time they have left with their franchise icons. Every passing year could conceivably be the last of that trio as elite players, and this trade shows that the Penguins are serious about trying to make noise this spring.
For Nashville, this deal continues their decision to pivot towards building for the future. With Barry Trotz now back in the fold and set to fully take the reins from GM David Poile in the Summer, the team is charting a new direction in its search for a contender. Mattias Ekholm, Tanner Jeannot, and Nino Niederreiter have all been dealt already, and Granlund adds another draft pick to their growing stockpile.
The Predators give up a player who figured to be a top-six staple for the next few years, but since they don’t seem as intent on short-term Stanley Cup contention, it’s easy to see why the pick is more valuable.
Additionally, in today’s flat-cap environment, it’s extremely difficult to move money without taking dollars back. The value of the Predators clearing Granlund’s $5MM off their books without having to retain or take any contracts back is definitely an important element of this trade.
Nashville now has five second-round picks over the next two drafts and could add more if they choose to trade any more veteran players. While the Predators’ coaching staff can’t be thrilled to lose such a capable veteran, Predators fans that have long hoped the team would pivot towards a more rebuild-like direction seem to be finally getting their wish.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman was first to report on Granlund being traded to Pittsburgh.
Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images
I wander off
Hope for their sake they are smart enough to pair him with Zucker.
They worked great together at times for the wind.
Should be good for granny though.
Just glad to see him get out of a Nashville uniform
This trade makes no sense whatsoever. Hextall only has a management job because of his last name. He and Burke should be fired at the end of the season
Why doesn’t it make sense? Because you’re a yinzer who needs something to be angry about and knows nothing about Granlund’s game or what the pens are doing? They’re not going to sell after bringing back Malkin, Letang and Rust. Granlund, a 3rd and a prospect for Blueger and a 2nd makes a hell of a lot of sense to me at making this team better.
It doesn’t really make sense considering Granlund is declining and has term remaining
Agreed that it doesn’t make sense. Granlund has great speed but why would you waste your remaining cap space on a 5 million dollar player who can’t score goals and is on the decline? If Nashville had eaten some salary it would have been a lot more tolerable.
*I* think it doesn’t make sense, and the closest I ever got to being a yinzer is that my first wife was from Pittsburgh. Have you ever heard the term “throwing good money after bad?” It’s plain that the gamble to scrape some final glory out of that ancient core has failed. Tossing *more* draft picks out the window in a desperate attempt to make the playoffs — which even if they managed to do, they’re going to get clobbered first round — just prolongs the pain the Penguins will have to suffer through for longer.
You don’t trade good picks to make a team “better” — you trade them to make a team GOOD.
Hell, if all they’re after is great speed, I bet Hextall could sign the top couple guys off of the US national speedskating team for league minimum.
Sid, Geno and Letang just demanded trades
Preds will be the new Blue Jackets now. Poile burning the house down on his way out.
can’t say the fans didn’t want it, I’m honestly excited for the future of the preds
That’s true, but as that old saying goes, be careful what you wish for. Throughout the Preds history, they’ve shown rare occassions of being able to draft high end forwards, so gathering a gazillion draft picks is no sure cure to their problems.
Poile had the chance this off-season to meaningfully address the teams #1 weakness of not having a dominant play driving forward, but instead of blowing away the Sharks new GM with a trade package for Timo Meier, Poile once again spent his money on a Dman. But this constant failure to address this need is why the team is where they are now. And the shame is, with the Western conference wide open this year, the Preds could’ve been dangerous if they had added the right piece to the team.
But with John Hynes as HC, maybe it was all a moot point anyway.
So a 31-year-old forward seemingly in decline who doesn’t score & plays indifferent defense, and has two years left at $5 million per. Well, I guess that’s… something.
Hey look. It’s the desperate and stupid thing we feared when we saw them waive guys to create cap space.
Honestly, this a better player at a better price than I expected to get, but also a much higher cap hit/price range than I expected, too.
I see that it somehow fits into our current situation, but we need to resign Jake and Jarry next year, so….
If this trade doesn’t impact that, so be it. Not bad. (Still need another move, though because the result of this can’t be a Heinan – Granlund – Carter line, though or else, why bother?)
If it costs them Jake or Jarry, then it’s worst move ever, which is saying something.
…Hextall’s worst move ever…
Bit of an overpay but another retirement gift for Poile, who has been living off the fumes from his one good trade in last 10 years until this week’s tidy business… Hextall trying to keep up with the Jones. After EJ & Rutherford, pittsburgh should know Hextall doesn’t belong in their GMing league
Not a big hockey fan but have to wonder what you can possibly do with management of the Penguins. You have three big stars who’ve played together here forever, fan favorites who command big salaries and eat up a considerable chunk of the budget
But they’re aging
And you have some stars like Guentzel and Rust around them who also command nice salaries
I dunno. Seems like that if you are going to allow these stars to finish their careers in Pittsburgh, which I understand, that your hands are tied, no ?
Most disappointing thing I read here is that there isn’t much help coming from the minors
Halfway through the Josh Yohe article on the Athletic trashing Hextall (not defending Hextall, I spent years referring to him as the Potted Plant, FFS) but Yohe cosigned virtually all of the moves Hextall made that he’s bashing him for now.
Said losing McCann was no big deal because he was streaky, said that McGinn was just as good as Tanev and then writes stuff like this…
“He gave his buddy, Jeff Carter, a ridiculous two-year extension. He traded away Jared McCann for next to nothing, all in the name of keeping Carter on the roster and protecting him from the expansion draft. (Seattle had no plans of drafting Carter had he been available). He let Brandon Tanev walk, and how good would he look on their third line right now?”
PGH media has spent years painting Rutherford as Mr. Magoo and claiming he was ruining the franchise BY TRYING TO WIN and then they write stuff like this….
“He(xtall) apparently thinks he’s building a team for the future while employing a bunch of Hall of Famers in their mid-30s. But, hey, I’m sure Owen Pickering will help the Big Three win a Cup in a couple of years.”
Just mailing it in from the peanut gallery.
“We’re talking about Mikael Granlund. That’s not a plan. It’s ordering pork chops at a steakhouse.
Penguins fans deserve better than this.
Sullivan deserves better than this. So do Crosby, Malkin and Letang.”
Deserve better beat writers, too.
BREAKING NEWS – The Pittsburgh Penguins place F Mikael Granlund on Waivers.
according to Tyler Kennedy rumor has it that Washington capitals Tom Wilson is going to be traded to Pittsburgh