Pittsburgh Penguins Trade Targets for the Buffalo Sabres

The Pittsburgh Penguins kept their Anaheim wins Ducks on Tuesday, and with Evgeni Malkin back in the lineup, the sky is the limit. Both Ron Hextall, general manager, and Evgeni Malkin, president of hockey operations are comfortably in the playoff spots. Brian Burke was recently mentioned that the team is pushing for the Stanley Cup this season. While Penguins fans shouldn’t expect a boatload of assets to be moved at the trade deadline for rental players, management will still be actively looking for creative ways to upgrade the roster, not only for the short term but the long term, if possible. 

Recently, I wrote about the Seattle Kraken and who the Penguins should be targeting. Today, I’ll turn to Buffalo and dive into three Sabres the Penguins should be calling about.

Mark Jankowski

Jankowski, who is 6-foot-4, is well-known by the Penguins. He played 45 games last season in Pittsburgh and scored 11 points. This season hasn’t gone as planned for the 27-year-old, who has played most of 2021-22 in the American Hockey League, where he’s posted 12 points in 13 games. In six games with the Sabres this season, the Calgary Flames’ first-round pick in 2012 received just over 13 minutes of ice time and was used mostly on the penalty kill.

Mark Jankowski Pittsburgh Penguins
Mark Jankowski is a good acquisition.Amy Irvin/ The Hockey Writers

Considering the reinstated taxi squad, the COVID absences, and the Penguins’ injury troubles, adding a player they are already familiar with as a depth option is a great idea and worth considering. Jankowski could be acquired for almost nothing and can play down the middle or on a wing. While he’s nothing to write home about, he’s also an under-the-radar type of addition who could have a bigger impact than we think.

Robert Hagg

The Penguins would love to add some toughness to their defense in time for the postseason and that’s what Hagg offers. He is a regular on the penalty killing and enjoys hard-nosed hockey.

Robert Hagg Flyers
Robert Hagg played five seasons with the Flyers, before he was traded to the Sabres.Amy Irvin/ The Hockey Writers

Hagg is the Sabres’ leading player in blocked shots and hits, even though he has played 10 fewer games. The 26-year-old is under contract for the rest of this season – at $1.6 million against the salary cap – and while he’s a pending unrestricted free agent, he knows the Penguins very well from his Days spent with the Philadelphia Flyers You could sign an extension in Pittsburgh.

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Ideally, management would add at least one more defenseman, and Hagg’s style of play is their focus. The Penguins have enough firepower to win, and their power play will be able to take care of itself. Defense has also contributed to the offense. All the team needs are some glue players, who play hard every shift, don’t make simple costly mistakes, and be healthy enough to stay on the ice. Hagg checks a lot of those boxes, and if he can stay healthy, he might be the perfect addition to the Penguins’ blue line.

Colin Miller

The 29-year-old defenseman is a master at everything. He plays both sides of the puck very well, he plays in all situations, and he’s battled tested with almost 400 NHL games under his belt. He could be the perfect addition to the Penguins at this trade deadline. He could be.

Miller could be available for a rental but may also be interested in staying in Pittsburgh for a few more seasons. The only way Penguins management would consider renting is if they talk about extension, which Hextall said he was open to doing during the season.

Colin Miller, Buffalo Sabres
Buffalo is expected to trade Colin Miller (Amy Irvin/ The Hockey Writers

Miller’s game would complement the second power play, and he could easily slide in as that fifth defender or move up the lineup in case of injury or further COVID absences. He’s not shy when it comes to being physical, and the mobile defenseman is three seasons removed from putting up 41 points. At $3.85 million, his contract is a bit tougher to fit under the cap, but it’s not an astronomical number, especially since the Penguins would pay just under half of the remaining salary. He’s a good option as he could make an impact at both ends of the ice, and sometimes the best defense is more offense. He does that.

The three Sabres each bring different assets to this table and the Penguins will likely review their asking price. If the price is right then we may see a deal close before the March 21 trade deadline. Although the Penguins are open for talent, Burke and Hextall made it clear that any move must make sense for the franchise for the remainder of the season as well as the future.