June 24, 2024

Fans and media alike are divided over the possibility that Jake Guentzel, the standout winger for the Pittsburgh Penguins, is moving. Although Guentzel’s departure from Pittsburgh would mean the end of an era, it would make sense to sell the former 40-goal scorer because he will be an unrestricted free agency this summer.

Seven years have passed since Guentzel was the Penguins’ youthful, covert weapon on consecutive Stanley Cup-winning teams, but his career has taken a totally different turn. Guentzel, who is a +12 overall, has already tallied 50 points (22 goals, 28 assists) going into Friday’s game against Minnesota. He needs 23 more points to tie his season-long total.

Although Guentzel is still productive, general manager and head of hockey operations Kyle Dubas’s choice will primarily depend on how much Guentzel can contribute to the team in the future.

Why it makes sense to trade Guentzel

Guentzel signed a five-year, $30 million contract in 2018, and he is currently in the last year of it. He was going to start his third NHL season at the time. At that time, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were playing at the peak of their abilities, and Pittsburgh had a clear path to the Stanley Cup.

In the modern day, Crosby may still maintain his status as one of the greatest players in the world, but Malkin is not in the same league. The Penguins are seven points behind Philadelphia for the last wild-card berth, and they are now fifth in the Metropolitan Division.

The Penguins need to accept that they will soon have to rebuild everything. That may include pausing rather than attempting to scrounge a spot in the playoffs this season, but it doesn’t have to mean setting out on a ten-year odyssey to get back into contention.

This team is no longer a Cup contender. The only player that could provide enough value in a trade, however, is Guentzel.

It would cost a lot of money to re-sign Guenztel because he is getting close to his 30s. What might be utilized for the remainder of the roster would be limited if Guentzel was paid what he could get on the open market.

Reasons why handling Guentzel might be problematic

Since Crosby and Guenztel have grown close, trading Guenztel might cause a major internal divide. Dubas must to ensure that any transaction involving Guentzel does not negatively impact the franchise’s face before approving it.

In the midst of a season, losing his most reliable linemate might require Crosby to get along with a new player. Eliminating one of the team’s most talented and well-liked players would suggest that this season, winning is not the main focus.

Pittsburgh still has opportunity to improve upon its current campaign. Before they could make it to the playoffs, Crosby and company turned it on and battled their way out of a hole. Based on past results, it’s even fair to adopt the mindset that “once in, anything can happen in the Stanley Cup playoffs”.

What will the Penguins do with star Jake Guentzel?

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