The Pittsburgh Penguins Traded for Jason Zucker of the Minnesota Wild for a high price, and the Carolina Hurricanes are looking at a Metro Division arms race to determine the Playoffs.
The Metro Division is the tightest and most dangerous division in the league right now. Chances are that there will be a team that will sit sixth in the division and miss the playoffs that would have sat in an automatic playoff spot in any of the other three divisions. Every team in the division, including the Carolina Hurricanes, is desperate to not be that team.
With only ten points separating the division leading Washington Capitals and the current sixth place holder Hurricanes, the race cannot be tighter as there are no more than 28 games left for any of these teams this season.
That has created a mad dash of General Managers looking to improve their rosters as the February 24th trade deadline creating a sort of arms race. Each team is suffering injuries and each team is afraid of capping a what should be glorious season in playoff missing disappointment.
The Pittsburgh Penguins struck a deal with the Minnesota Wild to be the first team to bring in additions in the Metro:
Lets break down this trade for both teams. The Penguins are only getting LW Jason Zucker, who will be on contract for the next three seasons after this one. Zucker already has 14 goals and 15 assists and will be a dangerous player for the Pittsburgh.
The Wild, in return, are getting RW Alex Galchenyuk, a rental with only 5 goals and 12 assists, prospect D Calen Addison, who has been spending time in the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes (the irony is not lost on me) with 8 goals and 32 assists, and a conditional 2020 1st round draft pick.
Galchenyuk, while joining the Wild, is actually a boon for the Penguins who get to shed his salary to make room for Zucker and Addison might be the real price along with the draft pick.
The conditional draft pick here is what stands out to me the most. If the Penguins are the team that ends up sixth in the division and misses the playoffs, it becomes a 2021 1st round draft pick. Even while making trades the Penguins are still concerned with protecting their assets should they fall.
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Now it is no secret that the Carolina Hurricanes were interested in Jason Zucker. He would have been a great fit on a Canes team that includes a pair of his former teammates. But at that price, perhaps Waddell may have passed and moved on. Perhaps Waddell got blocked by Wild owner Craig Leipold, who is reportedly still not over the Nino Niederreiter trade from last season. Can’t blame him.
Now the Hurricanes are in a tough spot where every night is a must win night to keep up with the ever improving Metro Division. Will they jump into the arms race as well and make a splashy trade by the deadline to bring in new life that can help keep the team afloat in this buzzsaw of a division? Or will they hope the talent they have between Raleigh and Charlotte is enough?
The Seattle Expansion Draft is coming soon too and there is all sorts of layers and levels to each and every trade. Everyone saw what happened with Vegas and is doing their best to protect their star players as best they can. Perhaps if you know that you can’t protect the player it may be better to trade them off early and get a return?
I would hate to be a General Manager in the Metro Division right now. These are strange times.
Question For CC Readers: How aggressive should the Hurricanes be by the trade deadline?