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Countdown to TradeCentre: Guentzel on the way out in Pittsburgh?


The NHL's March 8 Trade Deadline is approaching, and teams are making decisions on whether to buy or sell, and on which players can make the biggest difference and hold the greatest value. Check out today's trade rumours and speculation from around the NHL beat.

Guentzel on the way out?

Pittsburgh Penguins president and general manager Kyle Dubas admitted Wednesday that Jake Guentzel could be on the move ahead of the trade deadline as he looks to lower the team's average age.

Guentzel, 29, was the team's leading scorer before getting hurt last week, but is a pending unrestricted free agent carrying a cap hit of $6 million.

“I understand how valuable he’s been as a teammate, person in the community, contributor to helping the team win the Stanley Cup, and so on and so forth. It’s important,” Dubas told reporters. “But at the same time, we have to take stock with where we’re at and be realistic about the fact that one of the issues we have is we need to get younger. We have a lot of guys in their 30s signed, some of them are some of the best players in the history of the franchise.

“It’s tough with Jake, as I’ve said to him, because he’s an excellent player and playing at an elite level. We have to find a way to continue to have those solid veteran guys, but also continue to get younger at the same time.”

Guentzel's health could also factor into a deadline deal. The winger is out for up to four weeks, potentially ruling him out beyond March 8. Despite his injury, he kept his spot at No. 4 on the updated TSN Trade Bait board Wednesday. 

Guentzel has 22 goals and 52 points in 50 games this season. 

TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun reported Tuesday on Insider Trading that Dubas was "listening" on all non-core players. In his first year with the team, Dubas said his phone has been ringing, but he plans to give his team as much time as possible to right the ship.

“I think the way that our whole strategy plays out in the next two and a half weeks, how our team continues to play, will dictate the short-term answer, the trade deadline,” he said. “And then we’ll continue to have those discussions leading up to that and then afterwards with where it’s at.”

Set to take on the Montreal Canadiens Thursday night, the Penguins are coming off an overtime loss to the New York Islanders on Tuesday. Eight games remain on the schedule for Pittsburgh ahead of the deadline, with the team currently sitting eight points back of the Detroit Red Wings for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with two games in hand. Three teams - the New Jersey Devils, Islanders and Washington Capitals - are sandwiched between the Red Wings and Penguins in the crowded playoff race. 

Quiet Cats?

While the Florida Panthers are currently battling for first place in the Eastern Conference, it could be a quiet trade deadline for the Stanley Cup finalists. 

“We’re going to have some (cap) space, we have some late-round picks, but we’re going to have to be very, very cautious and frugal with what we do and how we do it,” Panthers general manager Bill Zito told the Got Yer Back podcast with Pierre LeBrun and Ryan Rishaug. “With all that said, the phone rings tomorrow, who knows?”

The Panthers, who are tied for the NHL lead with 37 wins this season, are without a selection in the first two rounds of this year's draft and are also without their 2025 first-rounder. According to CapFriendly, Florida is projected to have $5.72 million in cap space at the deadline, and though a top-nine forward made be on the wish list, Zito isn't fully committed to making a move.

“Top-nine forwards tend not to be cheap,” Zito said. “I made a joke to somebody: I need to buy an Armani suit, but I can’t really go to Madison Avenue; I have to wait until it gets to T.J. Maxx.

“Look, there could be a player available at any time — someone could blow our socks off, and you just have to do it; you don’t have any choice, right? But for the most part, we have to see what’s available to us and then any add at this point would be frosting on the cake, if you will. So sure, you can always use a better player, and we do have a core of players who readily adapt to different situations, who understand winning as a team, who enjoy winning and success and who are smart enough to figure out that no matter how much individual success you have, you always have more if you win.”

The Panthers will face the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday and can once again jump the Boston Bruins for first place in the Eastern Conference with a victory. 

Rangers eyeing Wennberg?

The Metropolitan Division-leading New York Rangers have "identified" Seattle Kraken forward Alex Wennberg as a person of interest ahead of March 8, Larry Brooks of the New York Post reports.

Brooks notes the Rangers are looking to improve their third-line centre, but could face competition from the Boston Bruins, who he reports also have interest in Wennberg. He notes that the price for Wennberg could vary based on whether salary is retained, though the Rangers won't empty their pockets to fill the depth spot. The Rangers are without their third- and seventh-round picks in this year's draft and have already moved their second-, third-, and fourth-round picks in 2025 as well as their 2026 second-rounder.

The 29-year-old centre was listed at No. 22 on the updated TSN Trade Bait board on Wednesday. He has eight goals and 22 points in 55 games this season and carries a cap hit of $4.5 million ahead of unrestricted free agency this summer. The Stockholm, Sweden native had 13 goals and 38 points in 82 games last season, adding two goals and seven points in 14 playoff games with Seattle. 

Selected 14th overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2013 draft, Wennberg has 89 goals and 327 points in 688 games with Columbus, the Florida Panthers and Kraken.