Guentzel Injury, Call Problems & Transactional Buzz
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Weekly Sniper Penguin
Penguin Head Coach Mike Sullivan confirmed on Wednesday some unfortunate news – forward Jake Guentzel will be out for several weeks due to an upper body injury. It looks like the injury occurred during the Penguins’ recent game against the Seattle Kraken, where Guentzel landed a blow to the arm. The team won’t confirm, but there is some speculation that it could have been a broken bone in his hand.
Guentzel was hot late in the game, scoring seven goals in his last five games. The veteran winger has had the lights off since then Sidney Crosby has returned to the typical XI and is on a total of 27 points in the 24 games he has appeared in. Sadly, he will be absent here for a while after not participating in practice on Wednesday. Penguins forward Jason Zucker nor engaged in practice, but the word is that it has been rigorous one day maintenance.
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The Penguins will need to have Zucker make a major advance when Guentzel is out of the lineup, along with Danton Heinen and Kasperi Kapanen. All three will have more time in the upper two, and they have some huge boots to fill if they want to be able to accommodate Guentzel production. This could certainly be some kind of now-or-never scenario for Zucker, who was named in some commercial rumors this season. If he can’t be more productive than one assist in the past seven games, Penguins management can formally ask him about giving up the no-deal protection. Currently, the team can only trade him into 22 teams.
Penguins are not expected to make any calls
It seems like the Penguins have always faced some kind of injury trouble and this season has certainly been no different. However, the only issue at the moment is the fact that Coach Sullivan confirmed that the team is unlikely to call anyone from the American Hockey League (AHL), as their affiliate. Wilkes-Barre / Scranton has been dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Penguins play head-to-head games this week on Friday against the Washington Capitals and Saturday against the Anaheim Ducks. While things could change before the weekend, it looks like the Penguins will stick to the players on their current roster. As guard Marcus Pettersson put it, the team always has the next one to boost morale:
Crowds were everywhere on Wednesday because both Zucker and Guentzel were absent. The Penguin depth chart is wide open right now, with a huge window of opportunity for most of their wingers. While Crosby, Jeff Carter and Evan Rodriguez are consistently productive, the team will need several other players to strengthen in the coming weeks.
Small trade can stop the bleeding in Pittsburgh
While the Penguins cannot risk and call anyone from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, management may have to look at other NHL clubs for more details. Penguins are expected to receive Evgeni Malkin back before the Christmas break, and while that will obviously help, the addition of another winger won’t hurt.
There are a number of teams that have come close to falling out of the knockout stages that might be ready to make some moves, including the Seattle Kraken, the Arizona Coyotes and the Los Angeles Kings. All three teams have some insight into expiring contracts who might catch the attention of the Penguins. Pittsburgh would certainly benefit from the addition of another winger who can also play in the midfield. Considering the amount of injury trouble the team has to deal with on a regular basis, squad flexibility is high-profile going forward.
One player who has slowed down the trading conversation is Casey DeSmith. The backup Netminder had a stellar performance recently in Seattle to take its first win. There’s been a lot of speculation about DeSmith’s role on this team and it’s great to see him clear the goose egg in the victory column.
The Penguins sit 12-8-5 going into this weekend and are about to experience two impressive games against the Vancouver Canucks and the Seattle Kraken. Guentzel fouled and both goalkeepers were able to secure victory. Look for the coaching staff to get creative over the next few weeks as they try to plug a huge hole left by Guentzel’s absence. It feels like we could see a small trade coming out of Pittsburgh – stay tuned.
Shane covers any and everything related to Toronto Maple Leafs & Pittsburgh Penguins. A frequent contributor to the THW family, his passion and unique perspective on the game leads to some of the most varied content. Certainly versatile, you can find Seney also contributing at NHLTradeRumors.me, BaseballRumors.me & BBallRumors.com. Follow on Twitter @ShugMcSween
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