The Minnesota Wild have traded forward Jason Zucker to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for forward Alex Galchenyuk, a conditional 2020 first-round draft pick and prospect Calen Addison, according to Bob McKenzie. The 2020 first-round pick could be moved to 2021 if the Penguins fail to make the postseason this year.
As McKenzie would report, the Penguins weren’t keen on moving either a first-round draft pick or Addison, their second-round pick from the 2019 Entry Draft, in this deal. Having the 28-year-old Zucker under contract for three more seasons beyond this year made it easier to digest though.
The reason for this, as McKenzie mentions, is that the Penguins are looking to maximize their Stanley Cup window with both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in their lineup and neither Addison nor whichever prospect they take with the 2020 first-round pick in June are likely to contribute in the next season or two.
Additionally, Galchenyuk is set to be an unrestricted free agent after this season.
In 45 games this season, Zucker has scored 14 goals and 29 points. Though he’s missed some time this year, Zucker is still scoring at a similar rate to his usual production and the Penguins are hoping he can give them a boost as they look to once again compete for a Championship with their current core.
Scoring at least four of the last five seasons (including each of the last three years) and a career-high 33 goals and 64-points in the 2017-18 season, Zucker certainly has the ability to complement the Penguins roster well.
When the Penguins moved on from Phil Kessel and acquired Alex Galchenyuk in the offseason, they were hoping he would be able to provide a dynamic edge to their team while producing offensively.
Unfortunately, the 25-year-old has only scored five goals and 17 points through 45 games this season and he never seemed like a good fit for the Penguins all season long.
The Penguins are four points behind the Washington Capitals for first place in the Metropolitan Division and they do hold a game-in-hand at the time of this trade. While the cost was steep, the hope is that they can bridge that gap while putting together another team capable of winning it all in 2020.
Wild Retooling for the Future
The Wild, on the other hand, are four points out of the second wildcard spot in the Western Conference and nine points out of third place in the Central Division. It’s unlikely they’ll make it to the playoffs at this point – though definitely still possible, and the Wild are looking to retool on the fly as they keep an open mind towards the future.
Getting a first-round pick and a good prospect in Addison while also acquiring half a season of Galchenyuk is a good return for the Wild. This also gives the Wild the chance to either negotiate a new contract with Galchenyuk before any other team gets the chance or move him again prior to the 2020 Trade Deadline.
Galchenyuk’s value is significantly lower than it once was when he was a member of the Montreal Canadiens, specifically when he would score 30 goals and 56 points in 82 games in the 2015-16 season.
Still, Galchenyuk has recorded at least 17 goals and 41 points in each of the last five seasons, finishing with 19 goals in each of the last two, 20-goals in the 2014-15 season and over 50 points twice in that time. To say he doesn’t have value would be foolish and at 25 years old, he still has the potential to be a dynamic offensive threat in the right situation.