The Pittsburgh Penguins are focused on getting the Stanley Cup back. The Washington Capitals trashed the Pens’ dream for a three-peat by defeating Pittsburgh in six games in the second round of the Eastern Conference. It was the Capitals’ revenge for the Penguins defeating them on their way to winning the Cup in 2009, 2016 and 2017.
The objective might be clear for Pittsburgh, however the process and the how to get there might be filled with obstacles they might not be prepared for. Especially with what has recently been reported by Jonathan Bombulie of TribLive.com. Bombulie recently speculated over the future of left winger Carl Hagelin, who’s eligible next July for unrestricted free agent status.
Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford might have to move him at the trade deadline in order not to lose him for nothing over the course of the summer 2019. While the Pens could always elaborate a plan to re-sign the forward, his salary could be hard to pinpoint and will be argued over. Hagelin hasn’t scored much – 26 goals in 179 regular-season games, and could be kept at a reasonable price, however, Bombulie believes he will test the free agency.
Right now, Pittsburgh heads into training camp with about $1.6 million in salary cap space. Jake Guentzel is due a new contract after this season, as is Matt Murray the season after that. There is a lot at stake.
If Hagelin chooses that he will walk away as a free agent, the Penguins will have to consider moving him at the trade deadline, if not, Hagelin walks for free... Is that something the Penguins can afford? Hagelin could be used as trade bait in a blockbuster trade that could push the Pens forward in a long successful playoff run. However, Bombulie believes they could keep him instead, a bit like they did with Fleury for the 2017 Stanley Cup triumph.
"Unless trading Hagelin’s salary is the last hurdle standing between the Penguins and the addition of the perfect difference-making scorer on the wing, they’d be better off keeping him for one last season."
No matter what, if this is what takes place in the spring, the Pens will lose Hagelin. Either on the trade market or during free-agency next summer. Let's see how this plays out...