Will the Penguins upgrade the defense before the 2019 NHL trade deadline?

Another week, another national report about the Pittsburgh Penguins poking around looking for defensive help. Most currently from Elliotte Friedman today:

Los Angeles is also fielding queries from opponents looking for defence. I’d heard a link between Jake Muzzin and Tampa Bay, but that was debunked. Could also see Pittsburgh (among others) checking out both Muzzin and Alec Martinez, currently out of the lineup.

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In theory, add Jake Muzzin or Alec Martinez to the blue line with Brian Dumoulin, Kris Letang and a healthy Justin Schultz and suddenly Cheap Pittsburgh Penguins Jerseys that’s a really good top-four personnel-wise.

Then the team would have some combination of Jamie Oleksiak, Marcus Pettersson and, yes, Jack Johnson to round out the third pair.

The missing name there that you might have noticed? Olli Maatta, of course. If the Penguins are looking to bring in a veteran defenseman, someone will have to go. Muzzin has one more year after this at $4 million on the salary cap, Martinez is signed for two more years at the same $4 rate. Maatta’s cap hit is just over that at $4.083 million for this season and three more.

Both the Kings and Pens are two salary cap limit teams, and any trade will likely be “dollar for dollar” — just as the trade was last month that sent Tanner Pearson to Pittsburgh for Carl Hagelin. Pittsburgh ended up retaining salary the difference in the players’ salary ($250,000) to make it a neutral trade for L.A.

Basing a trade around Maatta for Muzzin or Martinez plus some future asset would again be virtually salary-neutral. Granted, that implies both teams would be agreeable to acting on such an idea which is always the question that management and scouting has to come to acceptable answers on and where the timing isn’t always right for both sides.

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One other idea, which is way more of a pipe-dream but a dream worth living, would be an opponent the Penguins will face tonight, Duncan Keith.

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