A lot of the expansion draft discussion in Pittsburgh surrounded whether or not the team would protect forward Jared McCann.
They ended that discussion by trading him on Saturday to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
In exchange for McCann the Penguins will receive prospect Filip Hallander and a 2023 seventh-round draft pick.
Hallander was originally a second-round draft pick by the Penguins in 2018 and traded to Toronto before the 2020-21 season in the Kasperi Kapanen trade. Now he is on his way back to Pittsburgh.
The fact the Penguins traded McCann for that sort of return is a pretty clear sign he was not going to be on their protected list for the Seattle expansion draft. He would have been a very likely target for for the Kraken. Now that McCann is on his way to Toronto it seems quite likely that Teddy Blueger and Brandon Tanev will be among their seven protected forwards. It would be an interesting decision given that McCann has far more offensive upside than both, but the Penguins like what those two provide for their fourth line and defensively.
As for Toronto, McCann is a very intriguing depth addition to their lineup given his abilituy to play both center and wing, and the fact he is a very productive middle-six player. He is coming off of a 2020-21 season that saw him score 14 goals and 18 assists in 43 games. He scores at close to a 20-goal pace per 82 games. Given his talent and the quality of his shot it would not be a surprise to see him build on that at some point in his career.
The trade saves the Penguins $2.9 million against the salary cap this season.
McCann will be a restricted free agent after this season.