The Pittsburgh Penguins appear to be unwilling to move a first-round pick but it’s hard to imagine what the plan is going forward given the moves it made in the offseason.

While the team has had a disappointing first half of the year, the offseason appeared to be setting up one last ride with its core of players that helped them win three Stanley Cups.

The moves included bringing back still elite but injury-prone players Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang.

They both cost a combined $12.2 million against the salary cap and are decisions a win-now team makes.

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While the Penguins are in a playoff position as things stand currently – it certainly isn’t a comfortable one.

Just one point separates the Penguin’s other teams in the Eastern Conference on the outside looking in.

So moves at the trade deadline could be vital.

However, earlier this month general manager Ron Hextall said that trading a first-round pick is “not on the table” when it comes to solely creating salary cap space.

To be fair, the Penguins are in a tough position, as it doesn’t have a booming prospect pool either along with its tight cap position.

But the Penguins chose a direction in the offseason – and that’s to continue to try to contend with Sidney Crosby, Malkin and Letang.

To avoid another first-round exit – or worse missing potentially missing playoffs – it will likely need to make a major move.

Not only a first-round pick will likely need to be on the table, but it needs to be prepared to part with at least one of its top-level prospects and multiple other draft picks.

For example, Timo Meier, who will have team control for another year, will likely cost at least a first-round pick and a top prospect.

Plus, the Penguins will need to send some salary back to make a move work – given that it only has about $18,000 in cap space currently.

Hextall didn’t say that the organization was against trading a first-round pick in any circumstance – but sitll there needs to be an open-minded approach when it comes to the asset.

Figure Jason Zucker or another player with a similar contract would have to go the other way.

Another option is, of course, to trade for Patrick Kane, who may not cost as many assets since he reportedly needs hip surgery.

But he would need to waive his no-move clause in any trade and he has a $10.5 million cap hit.

But if the Penguins fail to make a major move, it is likely wasting another year of Crosby, who will turn 36 in August.

 

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