The Pittsburgh Penguins just got a little bigger on their backend.
The Penguins announced they struck a deal with the Dallas Stars on Tuesday afternoon, acquiring 6-foo-7 defenseman Jamie Oleksiak for a conditional fourth-round pick in 2019.
The trade comes on the heels of the Penguins making an odd move earlier in the day after acquiring goaltender Michael Leighton and a fourth-round draft pick in 2019 from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for forward Josh Archibald, goaltender Sean McGuire and a sixth-round draft pick in 2019.
Oleksiak, who has just three points in 21 games this season, hasn’t played since Dec. 9. It will be interesting to see where he fits in, if he does at all immediately.
One report suggests the Penguins had been interested in Oleksiak’s services for a while, and that the deal came together pretty quickly.
Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford suggested that a ‘major trade’ could happen if the Penguins continue to struggle.
Pittsburgh dropped a 4-2 decision to the Colorado Avalanche on Monday and sit outside the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference.
“We’re coming into a critical period where we’ll make a decision whether we need to shake things up or not,” Rutherford told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last Wednesday. “We’re good enough to be better than we’re doing. Hopefully, that’s the way it goes here in the next little while. If it doesn’t, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think that a major trade would come out of this.”
The Penguins have two fourth-round picks in 2019 at the moment and the Stars will get whichever one is higher, according to Shapiro.
Meanwhile, Leighton was sent down to Wilkes-Barrie/Scranton of the American Hockey League. Matt Murray is back to full health with the Penguins and Tristan Jarry has been phenomenal as a backup (and starter) when called upon.
It’s been an interesting season for Leighton, who will join his third NHL team after previously being with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Leighton is on a two-way deal with $650,000 at the NHL level and is an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season.
Leighton has played in just seven NHL games over the past seven seasons and unless the Penguins want to give Jarry more playing time in the AHL, it seems unfathomable that he’d become the backup going forward.
Archibald, meanwhile, will stay up with the Coyotes after the club announced that Dylan Strome was being sent back to the AHL following the trade. McGuire has been assigned to the Coyotes ECHL affiliate.
Also, in case you’re wondering about the NHL’s roster freeze and what it all means, CapFriendly sent out a helpful tweet to explain.