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Insider Only Penguins accomplish pre-deadline goal of starting to create some cap flexibility

Penguins ship Jamie Oleksiak back to Dallas

A priority for Penguins GM Jim Rutherford has been creating some financial flexibility by the trade deadline.

One of those priorities in recent weeks has been finding a new home for defenseman Jamie Oleksiak and the Penguins today have traded Oleksiak to the Dallas Stars for a 2019 4th round pick. Oleksiak returns to Dallas where he was a first round pick.

Pittsburgh dished out a three year contract to Oleksiak in the summer, valuing his size/toughness + some offensive potential the Penguins believed Oleksiak could tap into where the team was comfortable giving a bottom-pairing d-man that term.

However, the Penguins being married to the Jack Johnson contract, plus how high the organization has become of Marcus Pettersson, for a team always looking to add, you can’t have a 7th defenseman when you’re blueline is healthy eating up over $2 million against the cap.

That’s why the Penguins made the decision a few weeks ago to find a deal for Oleksiak that could create cap flexibility, even if it meant parting ways for just a mid to late round pick.

With two years remaining on his contract with a $2,137,500 cap hit, Oleksiak was always going to bring in a mild return.

“Our blueline has been depleted by injury all season and acquiring Jamie will give us depth at defense,” Stars GM Jim Nill said in a released statement. “We know him very well and we’re excited to have him back in the fold.”

The deal to Dallas was put together over this weekend as Marc Methot will undergo season ending surgery.

The Penguins internally at their pro scouting meetings last week were in strong agreement of the top-6 on the blueline being (when healthy):

Dumoulin-Letang
Maatta-Schultz
Pettersson-Johnson

Despite the third pairing significantly falling off, which was bound to happen, the coaches have continued to go to bat for Jack Johnson in meetings, sources say, valuing Johnson’s leadership on the penalty kill, one source indicated. Johnson leads all Penguin d-men in SHTOI at 2:19 P/G. If the Penguins were to add an impact defenseman at the deadline (top-2 pairing) with no defenseman going the other way, Marcus Petterson not Johnson would fall to seventh on the depth chart when this group is fully healthy.
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About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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