Is Canucks interest in Penguins' Jake Guentzel legitimate?

Vancouver Canucks v Pittsburgh Penguins
Vancouver Canucks v Pittsburgh Penguins / Justin Berl/GettyImages

There's been a lot of Vancouver Canucks-based chatter around Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jake Guentzel lately, and perhaps deservedly so. The Penguins are fighting tooth and nail for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, whereas the Canucks are sitting pretty atop the Western Conference.

As for Guentzel, he's in the final year of a five-year, $30 million contract he signed in Dec. 2018. Now 29 and playing for a struggling, aging Penguins team, Guentzel's next move is a big one. This offseason will be his last chance for a big payday and perhaps his last chance at winning a Stanley Cup, too.

In all likelihood, the Canucks aren't going to have the money to extend Guentzel beyond this season, so he's more than likely going to be a rental. Would Vancouver really be willing to pay through the nose to rent a top-line winger for a few months? Patrik Allvin, Jim Rutherford, and Rick Tocchet all have history with Guentzel, and it was Rutherford who extended the player back in 2018. With Andrei Kuzmenko struggling and only signed for one more year, a Guentzel trade could make sense if the Canucks are convinced the temporary upgrade is worth the assets they give up.

Considering the Canucks also brought back the Lotto Line of Elias Pettersson, J.T. Miller, and Brock Boeser, their need for complimentary scoring increased tenfold. One could argue that a second-line center would be more important based on this, but Guentzel is capable of driving play on his own. The 29-year-old can do most of the heavy lifting offensively, while players like Pius Suter or Ilya Mikheyev can help defensively and on the cycle.

So, is the Canucks' interest legitimate? Honestly, I say no. I know this is the Canucks we're talking about, but I just don't see Guentzel as a worthwhile investment if he's not (will not) stay in Vancouver. Kuzmenko's trade value has never been lower, and the team's need for another center will be greater should the Lotto Line stay together long-term. If I'm Allvin and the Canucks, Guentzel is off my radar unless I am 110% convinced that I'm coming out of this with a Stanley Cup.