Penguins get: Defenseman Dmitry Kulikov
Ducks get: Forward Brock McGinn, third-round choose
Sean Gentille: All we will do right here — the one factor that’s honest and cheap — is to evaluate each deal based mostly on the accessible real-world context. Is a staff in higher form than they have been beforehand, or are they not?
Right now, about 90 minutes forward of the deadline, Ron Hextall’s Pittsburgh Penguins are in higher form after this deal than they have been beforehand.
It has nothing to do with Kulikov, a 31-year-old left shot who has been completely caved in by top-pair minutes with the abysmal Ducks. He’s a replacement-level man on an excellent day, or at the least he must be.
Where Hextall scored a meager win, perhaps his final of the season, is in transport out McGinn’s contract. He’d have carried a $2.75 million AAV for every of the subsequent two years, and had been buried within the AHL after Hextall’s frantic wage dump-fest forward of the Mikael Granlund deal. Hextall signed McGinn in one among his first acts as Pittsburgh’s GM again within the 2021 offseason. He’d gone 26 video games and not using a level earlier this season as a part of a bottom-six group that successfully kneecapped Pittsburgh and doesn’t look a lot better, no matter all of the shuffling Hextall has carried out.
Now, if the plan is to play Kulikov, Pittsburgh will possible have to maneuver both Brian Dumoulin, Marcus Pettersson or Pierre-Olivier Joseph. Dumoulin is a pending UFA who’d in all probability want a sweetener for a staff to need him. Pettersson has been the simplest of the three this season. Joseph is among the group’s few related gamers on an entry-level deal. We’ll see what the result is there. I’m skeptical that it’ll assist the Penguins meaningfully, however we’ll see.
Anaheim purchased a third-round choose for 2 years of McGinn and a few retention on Kulikov. It’s simple to think about them flipping him subsequent 12 months, perhaps with some wage retained, to a staff that wants a fourth-line physique that may skate and kill penalties. Not unhealthy.
Penguins grade: B
Ducks grade: B+
Dom Luszczyszyn: Getting out of Brock McGinn’s contract — $2.75 million for 2 extra years — is a win. Getting Anaheim to retain cash on Kulikov is technically a win too… if he’s a participant a staff needs to focus on. I wouldn’t have. But the deal does give Pittsburgh extra cap flexibility and that’s essential.
Or, it will be for a special entrance workplace. After seeing Ron Hextall gentle useful belongings and cap house on fireplace to accumulate Mikael Granlund, I’m actually skeptical that extra flexibility goes to be an excellent factor. The implications of this deal appears like an impending loss. Perhaps even a giant one.
Let’s begin with who they acquired: Dmitry Kulikov. He’s a left-shot defenseman who has spent his total profession drowning in top-four minutes with this season being his most egregious. Blame a nasty staff and a nasty system all you need, however you may’t try this for each participant on the staff — not on a staff that grades because the worst defensive staff of the analytics period. They’re that unhealthy due to personnel, personnel that included and featured Kulikov in a distinguished function.
Maybe he does higher on a greater staff in a smaller function. Maybe. He was genuinely good final 12 months defensively and the Penguins have a robust historical past of rehabilitating defensemen. His utilization this 12 months hasn’t been simple. But final 12 months seems like an outlier 12 months too, one that’s fully undone by Kulikov’s work this 12 months. Kulikov was price 1.8 wins per 82 final 12 months. This 12 months it’s the exact opposite: minus-1.8 wins. It’s onerous to harm a staff that a lot by yourself however we’re speaking a few defender who’s second final on the Ducks in anticipated targets share at 37 %. He’s a giant a part of the issue — relative to a nasty staff, he’s been worse. According to knowledge tracked by Corey Sznajder Kulikov has been a legal responsibility at retrieving pucks in his personal zone, turning these retrievals into exits and is a turnstile at his personal blue line.
A 3rd-round choose to this staff is meaningless and getting out of McGinn’s deal may be price it alone. He’s been his personal model of terrible this 12 months and is an offensive black gap. But that is one other transfer that doesn’t transfer the needle at finest and may very well damage the Penguins’ backside line if Kulikov is as washed as he’s appeared this 12 months. McGinn, as unhealthy as he’s offensively, is at the least doing okay defensively this 12 months.
And that’s simply this deal, one which creates a log jam on the left aspect with Dumoulin, Pettersson, Joseph and Ty Smith. I’m unsure Kulikov is an enchancment over any of them. If the logical conclusion involves be buying and selling Pettersson — the perfect one — then the Penguins would be the uncommon breed of staff that spends loads of belongings on the deadline solely to return out the opposite aspect a worse staff.
The “plan” is beginning to take form, however it doesn’t appear in any respect like an excellent one.
Penguins grade: C-
Ducks grade: B
(Photo: Randy Litzinger / Icon Sportswire through Getty Images)