To some extent, making a trade and burning a future asset in exchange for help now finally ended the day in Pittsburgh on the NHL’s trade deadline. The Penguins have acquired attacker Rickard Rakell from the Anaheim Ducks.
Zach Aston-Reese, Dominik Simon, a prospect and the second round of 2022, apparently the return to ANA from PIT on Rickard Rakell. Trade call not done yet so nothing official yet.
— Bobby Margarita (@TSNBobMcKenzie) March 21, 2022
Rakell, 28, has a salary cap of $3.78 million, which is more than Aston-Reese and Simon combined, so the Ducks can withhold some salary. The final details of the transaction, including details about the prospect Pittsburgh is sending, remain unknown as the NHL processes and completes a number of trades coming in just before the 2:59:59 PM deadline.
For the pens, it might be a “best of all worlds” trade. The much needed attacker who can put the puck in the net. Rakell is a two-time 30+ goalscorer in the NHL with 16 goals and 12 assists in 51 games this season.
Ironically, however, for a team in dire need of someone to finish, Rakell was not always the sharpest in this area with a typically low firing rate in recent seasons.
To add to the list of reasons this could also be a slow start, Rakell has missed the Ducks’ last three games through injury.
One of Rakell’s strengths, however, is his play of rush, which combined with his goalscoring resume suggests he could be a fun player to try out with Evgeni Malkin and probably do what Kasperi Kapanen should have done.
• Go to Score Areas
• Attack outside the Rush
• Shoot first inclination
• Often in good puck support positions
25th in shots from the rush, all sit for forwards
— Meghan Chayka (@MeghanChayka) March 21, 2022
Rakell isn’t going to add much defensively, and his stats are pointing downward since he peaked from 2016-18, although perhaps due to some team effects.
Traded to PIT, Rickard Rakell is a middle six goalscorer who, uh, struggled to score in the two seasons before that. Doesn’t really create for itself; he is best used next to a playmaking center who can hit him with dangerous passes… #LetsGoPens pic.twitter.com/pc68ZcrYEr
— JFresh (@JFreshHockey) March 21, 2022
In return, the Pens give up two fringe players on their depth map in Zach Aston-Reese and Dominik Simon, plus a second round. Aston-Reese will be missed on the PK, although it has proved to be a replaceable aspect of that group. Speaking of expendable, Simon has good advanced stats but hasn’t played a huge role and his low stats make him a good candidate to go the other way and not lose too much.
Ultimately, the biggest loss will be this year’s second round pick, a choice GM Ron Hextall probably didn’t want to move. However, with his team back in balance and looking like one of the top teams in the Metropolitan division and in the East, their biggest weakness was in needing one more finisher and a scoring winger.
Giving up on a second round pick is well worth adding a player like Rackell, even if he turns out to be just a mercenary. He can do things the Penguins need, and unlike other professions in the league, it didn’t cost an outrageous amount to add to the team. The pens will also provide an undisclosed “perspective” but that doesn’t change the calculation of this trade much as frankly they don’t have a good enough outlook to worry about losing at this point.
For a long time it looked like the pens would opt for what they had on hand, but the last minute move strengthens the team and makes them better at the last minute. Hextall owed that to the team, both before and after they played this season.
Projected play-off lineup
Jake Guentzel – Sidney Crosby – Bryan Rust
Jason Zucker – Evgeni Malkin – Rickard Rakell
Evan Rodrigues – Jeff Carter – Kasperi Kapanen
Danton Heinen – Teddy Blueger – Brock McGinn
Brian Dumoulin / Kris Letang
Mike Matheson / John Marino
Marcus Pettersson / Chad Ruhwedel
Reserves: Brian Boyle, Mark Friedman, Nathan Beaulieu, Radim Zohorna
There’s still some room to sort lines accordingly, but if healthy Pittsburgh’s top-nine and even top-12 attackers are looking really good now. They will need players like Zucker, Rakell and Kapanen to get through, but those are also players who are now in good situations to do that.
For the reported Pittsburgh/Anaheim trade that sends Rickard Rakell to the Pens
Love it, great addition of the pens, exciting move!
Pretty good trading, pretty excited
Completely neutral about it from now on
Don’t like it, gave up too much and/or Rakell is not the right man
38 votes in total