Ron Hextall's Trade Deadline Success Continues

Source: Pittsburgh Penguins

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Ron Hextall shocked us all at the trade deadline when he waited for the last minute to pull the trigger on a trade with the Anaheim Ducks for Rickard Rakell.  It was not as if Rakell was not a known target of the Pittsburgh Penguins.  Our Cody Flavell wrote about Rakell as a target back in February, a few weeks before the closing trade bell.  What was surprising is as far as that day was concerned, it essentially came out of nowhere.

Every Penguin insider was radio silent on trade day.  No rumors, no news, no “deep trade talk” tweets like we’ve seen with Pittsburgh Pirate Bryan Reynolds this week.  Silence.

Then, right at the deadline, in classic Hextall fashion, it was announced that the Penguins had traded Zach Aston-Reese, Dominik Simon, a goalie prospect, and a second round draft pick for Ducks winger, Rickard Rakell.  This was a much needed add for the Pens as their depth scoring had gone completely cold.  Aside from Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jake Guentzel, and Bryan Rust, nobody else could put the puck in the net.  Especially hot starters Danton Heinen and Evan Rodrigues. 

So Hextall pulled the trigger on a winger, and lost very little contributing talent this season.  Aston-Reese and Simon had become a dime a dozen type players, and not much would be missed for the 2022 playoff run.  However, Rakell has made an immediate impact. 

In just six games, Rakell has already racked up five points.  This includes two assists and three goals, including two in last night’s overtime win against the Minnesota Wild.  And off the stat sheet, you can visually see the impact Rakell is making.  He continues to create opportunities for scoring on the ice, and with a few more bounces his way, Rakell could easily have ten points with the Pens by now. 

But this is Hextall’s MO.  He makes an impact trade at the deadline, seemingly out of nowhere, with no reports prior to it being official, and the player brought in makes an immediate impact on the team.  The same thing happened last season with Jeff Carter.  Excuse me…Big Jeff Carter.

The 6’3”, 220 lb, forward played 14 games with the Penguins last season after coming over in a trade from the LA Kings.  In that time Carter scored nine goals, had two assists, and registered a +9 while on the ice. 

While Carter has gone cold as of late this season, the impact he had at the end of last season stands.  It shows Hextall has the great ability to take a look at his current roster, evaluate the options on the market, and bring in exactly what this team needs to make an immediate impact.  And an immediate impact at the most important part of the season. 

Jeff Carter was also extended earlier this season, and Rakell is in line for an extension as well.  Not only are these players making immediate impacts, but Hextall is also recognizing ways in which they can add players that will then stick around and help the depth and salary cap situation for the Penguins. 

Could he have added a defender and a backup goaltender at each of these deadlines as well?  Sure.  However, it is also Hextall’s style to not totally mortgage the future in one deadline as some of his predecessors used to.  I like Hextall so far, and if he continues adding these impact players at the deadline, the team will stick with him.

We’ll see how he does with free agency this offseason with some big names set to have their contracts expire.  But until then, I’m firmly in the Hextall fan club.