It's officially Trade Season.
The New York Islanders' blockbuster Bo Horvat deal signaled the unofficial kickoff to the wildest time in the NHL calendar: the run-up to the NHL trade deadline, which is on March 3 this year.
Every contending team's general manager will be looking for the final piece of the puzzle to lift them to a Stanley Cup parade in June. A Cup victory means eternal praise from fans and colleagues alike, whereas an empty deadline could mean being one step closer to the unemployment line.
With that in mind, the B/R NHL Staff called together another roundtable to determine which GMs are on the hot seat to make a deal that could put the team over the top.
Ron Hextall, Pittsburgh Penguins
When Ron Hextall was fired by the Philadelphia Flyers ownership talked about wanting a replacement that had "a bias for action."
In other words, they did not like his methodical, patient approach to making moves and building a roster.
Pittsburgh is starting to find out what that process looks like. Hextall is simply not very aggressive in the trading game, but he is going to need to be in the coming weeks because the Penguins need some help.
When they decided to re-sign Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, Bryan Rust and Rickard Rakell this past offseason for another run, they made it clear that this is not a team looking to rebuild. They still want to contend, and contend now.
The top two lines are outstanding, and Tristan Jarry has been very good in goal when he has been healthy, but the Penguins' biggest issue has been with its unproductive bottom-six forward groupings. They have been outscored and outshot this season by a heavy margin when neither Sidney Crosby nor Malkin is on the ice, which will not get them very far in the playoffs.
Hextall does not have a lot to trade from within the farm system, but he does have a 2023 first-round pick. He seems hesitant to deal that pick, but it has more value to the Penguins as a trade asset in the short-term than a future pick in the long-term. If they make the playoffs, that pick will be between 17 and 32, which is typically only a 50-50 shot of landing an NHL regular and usually only a 15-20 percent shot of landing a top-line player. If it can get them somebody to give Crosby, Malkin and Letang a better shot to make another run this season, they need to do it.