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With six weeks to go before the NHL trade deadline, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Minnesota Wild are talking about a trade.

Over the weekend, a source with direct knowledge told Pittsburgh Hockey Now that Penguins GM Ron Hextall’s trade discussions have included talks with the Minnesota Wild. Talks have been limited to the top levels of organizations.

The Penguins are skating after the NHL’s offseason. The team lost two of three games at halftime and had just two wins in eight games after the break.

In their last 11 games dating back to a Dec. 18 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, the Penguins are 3-6-2.

The focus of the Penguins’ trade talks was unclear, but the teams are meeting up well.

Minnesota has something going for the Penguins. and project Minnesota State to have about $3.7 million in salary cap space, and both sites report that the Wild currently have more than $7 million in cap room. projects the Pittsburgh Penguins to have just over $18,000 in cap space. So any trade would have to be salary or salary neutral for the Penguins.

According to a recent Minnesota report from the Athletic, Minnesota GM Bill Guerin admitted the team has received calls regarding right-hander Matt Dumba. However, Guerin said he is not actively shopping the d-man and any deal would be a hockey trade.

The Penguins are well-stocked with right-handed defensemen (Kris Letang, Jeff Petry, Ian Rutta), so Dumba’s $6 million salary and pending RBI status would make him an unlikely trade target for the Penguins.

Wild may need offensive help under center. Sam Steele and former Penguins center Frederic Gaudreau center the Wild’s top two lines (but play fewer minutes than “third-line” center Joel Eriksson Eck). Gaudreau has 20 points (11-9-20) in 42 games. In those same 42 games, Steele has 22 points (8-14-22). Both are respectable centers, but perhaps play a line or two away from their optimal position.

Minnesota also has a trio of responsible but low-scoring defensemen to their left (Jacob Middleton, Jonas Brodin, John Merrill).

The Penguins appear to have an asset or two that could help both situations, and Minnesota has the cap space that could facilitate a trade for the Penguins.

The Penguins have two young left defensemen in Ty Smith and PO Joseph who could be valuable assets for a team looking for more mobility and offense on the left side.

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said last week that the lefty Smith is “making a solid case for himself.” The 22-year-old d-man has led the Penguins’ strongest game in Kris Letang’s absence. Despite playing off the bench, he has three points (1-2-3) in seven games.

To balance out the blue line, the coaches put Smith on the right and veteran Brian Dumoulin on the left. The pair has received positive feedback, and Sullivan said he thought Dumoulin was playing his best hockey in the past few weeks.

Joseph’s ice time has been different lately. He has 12 points (2-10-12) in 38 games, and Guerin has known Joseph since Guerin’s time at the Penguins AGM.

Center Jeff Carter may appear eligible for discussion, but he has a no-movement clause on his two-year contract that expires after next season. The 38-year-old center has a $3.125 million cap hit and has 19 points (7-12-19) playing a mostly defensive role in the Penguins’ bottom six behind centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.


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