It’s been a long time since Kyle Dubas had to sell at the trade deadline, and it’s been even longer since the Penguins were sellers.  This year, the team’s level of play clearly forced Dubas’ hand, and he had the #1 trade chip at his disposal.  At the end of the day, Jake Guentzel, a pending UFA, was traded to a team that never trades for rental.  The Carolina Hurricanes acquired Guentzel and Ty Smith for Michael BuntingVille KoivunenVasili PonomarevCruz Lucius, a conditional first round pick and a conditional fifth round pick based on Carolina’s playoff results.  The rest of the moves on Thursday were on depth besides Anthony Duclair going to Tampa’s middle six, so I’m going to focus this post on what this does for Carolina and how this helps the Penguins now and in the future.  Let’s get to it!

Let’s start with the star side of the trade with Carolina.  Guentzel immediately becomes their best winger, a true first liner with significant success in both the regular season and the playoffs.  Guentzel is over a point per game and over 3.5 shots per game, all while having the lowest shooting percentage of his career.  He’s an absolute force and while he won’t get to play with Crosby anymore, it shouldn’t hurt his value.  The only concern that I have is that Guentzel has been playing almost 21 minutes per night this season.  Even Aho only plays 19:30 per game, and the only other forward above 17:30 per game is Jarvis.  Guentzel could potentially lose 10% of his ice time, but a positive regression with his shooting could cancel that out.  He will easily slide into the first PP unit in Noesen’s place on a team rounding into form.  Overall, I see Guentzel maintaining his current value for the rest of the season.  In dynasties, I actually see this as a slight upgrade, assuming Carolina manages to get an extension done.  Pittsburgh was quickly aging out, and Guentzel becomes the oldest part of their core.  Carolina is in position to sustain success, and I expect Guentzel to be in my top 50 overall for the next few seasons.  Smith becomes a decent lottery ticket add here, as he was very solid as a rookie for the Devils but fell apart from there.  The Hurricanes have too much depth for him to make an immediate impact, but as a throw in, I like taking the chance.

I want to preface the Pittsburgh section by noting that I am not a prospect expert.  I feel strongly about what Bunting is and will be for Pittsburgh, but my viewings of these prospects are limited.  They’re all in Carolina’s top 10 prospects so I have seem them play at least a few times and have read about them, but don’t treat my thoughts as gospel.

The biggest winner of this trade from a fantasy perspective is definitely Bunting.  We’ve seen what he could do mooching off Matthews and Marner.  Now, he should get the chance to play with Crosby and on the first power play unit.  He’s been poor at even strength, especially by Carolina standards, but he still had 38 points in 60 games with very good PIM.  Bunting is available in 80% of leagues, but with this move, I would own him everywhere.  He’s definitely worth the spec add.

Koivunen is the flashiest of the three prospects.  He’s been quite productive in the Finnish league and loves to create with the puck on his stick.  Koivunen’ scoring and passing both flash at times.  His overall game needs work, and even though he’s grown a bit, his frame could be a problem at the NHL level.  There’s upside of a middle six winger if things pan out, but I don’t see Koivunen as capable of driving play at the NHL level, meaning that he’s a risky proposition.  If he can get his game to translate and gets to play with the right center, there could be something nice here.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Ponomarev is called up to the Penguins roster immediately.  While I’ve seen him the least of these guys, Ponomarev stood out each time because his motor is non-stop.  His hands are very good, and even though none of his other attributes particularly stand out, it’s easy to see him as a third line center that a coach trusts.  Instinctually, Ponomarev just seemed to always be in the right place at the right time.  Unlike Koivunen, it’s hard to see a ton of potential for dynasties.

The younger brother of the Winnipeg first round pick Chas, Cruz has put up plenty of points at the college level in Wisconsin.  While I don’t know whether he’ll pan out, I’m pretty confident in what will determine his success.  Lucius plays the game at his own pace, trying to control the game to make up for his mediocre skating.  He has plenty of confidence, but he’ll have to take two steps up from NCAA to the NHL.  In a worst case scenario, Lucius is unable to keep up with the pace of NHL and ends up a tweener.  If he’s able to play to his strengths and slow the game down even at the NHL level, Lucius should be a middle six winger complementary piece.  While he doesn’t have the pedigree of Casey Mittelstadt, stylistically, he shows the different sides of the coin.  Early in his career, Mittelstadt struggled offensively to the pace of the NHL.  Now, he slows the game down to his pace in the offensive zone and is a very good player.  Again, I’m not comparing the two players, but merely illustrating the different potential outcomes.

That’s all for now guys.  If there’s any other big trades, I’ll try to get the analysis out as soon as possible.  Otherwise, I’ll be back on Monday recapping the weekend, along with adding some analysis on the trades that do happen on Friday.  As always, feel free to ask any questions, leave any comments, or give any suggestions below.  Thanks for reading, take care!