NHL Power Rankings: Does the Penguins’ trade for Jason Zucker make them Metro favorites?


The Pittsburgh Penguins have been one of the most surprising success stories of this NHL season. Yes, they still have Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and plenty of championship pedigree, but this has been no cake walk. 

Pittsburgh has been dealing with significant injuries to its lineup all season long — including extended absences from Crosby and Malkin — but it has managed to stay in the hunt in an extremely tough Metropolitan division. Now, with the help of a key acquisition this week, the Penguins looking to win that division. 

On Monday, the Penguins acquired Jason Zucker from Minnesota in exchange for Alex Galchenyuk, prospect Calen Addison and a first-round pick in 2020. Zucker, 28, is a speedy and skilled winger that Pittsburgh has coveted since last summer, when it tried to trade Phil Kessel to land him. (Kessel blocked that deal.) 

Now that Zucker is in the fold, the Penguins have another legitimate threat to slot in on the wing beside Crosby and/or Malkin. That helps offset the loss of Jake Guentzel, whose status still remains up in the air after undergoing shoulder surgery earlier this season.

But does the addition of Zucker push the Pens past Washington? The Capitals have sat atop the Metro for most of this season and looked like a near-lock to win it when they were outpacing the 2018-2019 Lightning. But Washington has since come back down to earth and now the Penguins are right on their heels — four points back with two games in-hand. Not such a lock anymore. 

That’ll be just one more intriguing race to watch down the home stretch of this season, but there are other teams and storylines to get to in this week’s edition of Power Rankings. Let’s roll. 





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