Insider Gives Logical Assessment On Penguins' Trade Deadline Plans

The Pittsburgh Penguins are flirting with not making the playoffs for a second consecutive season after bolstering their lineup in the offseason. The team currently sits five points out of the final wildcard spot on the east with three games in hand. They have also lost two games in a row. This is a team that is very top-heavy and it is clear to see. They have been this way for a while now and haven't won a playoff series since 2018.

The trade deadline is quickly approaching and there will have to be a decision made on what the Penguins will do. Craig Button joined Jay Onrait on Sportscentre to discuss what the logical plans should be. He said that, "I think (Kyle Dubas) has to clearly look to next season, as difficult as that is for people to hear."

Button definitely doesn't think that the Penguins should be buyers as they sit outside of the playoff picture and there isn't a whole lot the team can do to address their issues, which is depth. With the acquisition of Erik Karlsson in the offseason, it moved them to the cap. The top dogs have been carrying the team, so if there is anything that can be done to make the team better this season, it comes from within, not the GM. Button also stated, "I don't think that there's enough there that (Dubas) can do (at the deadline) to give (the Penguins) a chance to win."

Instead, the team could trade Jake Guentzel, who is in the final year of his deal and without a contract in place. The Penguins are without many prospects, notably ones that can come into the NHL and contribute right away. That's what needs to be a part of the return for Guentzel for the Penguins to turn things around immediately for next season. As for Reilly Smith, the team can also look to sell him off. He has one more year on his contract after this at $5 million AAV, is a veteran with lots of experience, and can produce. There isn't much time to turn things around and not enough space to pull off a huge move that can be justified. It might have to wait until next season and there is a decent chance the Penguins will sell.

Photo credit: © Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports