As the NHL trade rumors heat up on the ice, there’s been some recent roster moves pulled off by the reigning NHL champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins. The team traded two players and a 2019 pick to the Arizona Coyotes for Michael Leighton and a 2019 fourth-round pick. That pick was one that the Coyotes originally received from Minnesota. In addition, they made a deal with Dallas for defenseman Jamie Oleksiak, who is a former first-round draft pick. Here’s the latest on what the NHL trades involved as well as the outlook for these teams in the ongoing season and future playoff chase.
In the first deal by the Penguins, they shipped right wing Josh Archibald, Sean Maguire, and a 2019 sixth-round NHL pick to the Arizona Coyotes. In return, Pittsburgh added goalie Michael Leighton to the roster, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Leighton’s been in the league since the 2002-03 NHL season and has been on multiple teams throughout his career, but he could provide the team with a backup goalie option. At first, this particular deal seemed puzzling for Penguins fans, but their team wasn’t done there, as the two players seemed like they were dealt to clear up roster room and drop a contract in order to make another deal.
According to Pro Hockey Rumors, the second deal came as the Dallas Stars traded Jamie Oleksiak to the Pittsburgh Penguins. In exchange, Dallas is going to get a conditional 2019 fourth-round pick. That means the Stars will end up with either the Penguins or Minnesota Wild’s fourth-round pick. That pick came to Minnesota in a previous deal with the Arizona Coyotes, which then went to Pittsburgh in a recent deal. With that said, Dallas is going to get either Pittsburgh or Minnesota’s 2019 NHL Draft’s fourth-round pick, depending on which one is sooner in the draft order.
Jamie Oleksiak was the No. 14 draft pick back in the 2011 NHL Draft. He’s spent his career in Dallas thus far and has tallied seven goals and 15 assists in 140 games played. For the current season, he’s already scored once and achieved two assists to teammates. Oleksiak is due to become a free agent this coming summer, so he’ll be auditioning for the rest of the season to either pick up a big deal from Pittsburgh or attract another interested team.
In the scheme of the trades, Pittsburgh is picking up a player who has been questionable over the past season with Oleksiak, who is owed $965,000. While he’s considered a defender, the Dallas Stars had him at the forward spot during select games. Goalie Michael Leighton has been in the league 14 years now, but after bouncing between teams this past season, Arizona reassigned him to their minor league team in Tucson days ahead of this trade.
The latest moves by the Penguins still seem puzzling, but it’s possible it was done in an effort to give the roster a jolt of life as they try to surge towards a return to the playoffs this season. As of this point in the season, the Pittsburgh Penguins are currently 17-15-3 and sixth in the Metropolitan Division. Although it’s still early in the season, the latest playoff standings show that the Penguins are currently contending for one of the Eastern Wild Card spots with the two New York teams.
Dallas (34-18-14) is in a similar position in the Western Conference, as they would hold a wild card spot if the season ended today. Meanwhile, the Arizona Coyotes have been struggling and sit at a record of 7-23-5 in the Western Conference.