Hurricanes closing in on deal for Jake Guentzel

The Hurricanes are close to acquiring winger Jack Guentzel from the Penguins. (Matt Slocum / AP Photo)

RALEIGH — The Hurricanes are poised to land arguably the top player on trade market, closing in on a deal for Penguins winger Jake Guentzel that would ship out Michael Bunting and other assets. Several outlets have reported the pending deal.

Guentzel, in the final year of a contract that averages $6 million annually, has scored 219 goals since entering the NHL in 2016, the 21st most in the league over the past eight seasons. He has 22 goals and 30 assists for 52 points through 50 games with Pittsburgh this season.

Bunting, who was held out of Thursday’s game against the visiting Canadiens for “trade-related reasons,” signed a three-year, $13.5 million contract with the Hurricanes in the offseason. He has 13 goals and 23 assists for 36 points in 60 games with Carolina this season with a team-worst minus-15 plus/minus. He played for first-year Pittsburgh GM Kyle Dubas in Toronto the previous two seasons and also with the Soo Greyhounds when both were with the Ontario Hockey League junior team.

The 29-year-old Guentzel, who was born in Nebraska and grew up in Minnesota before playing collegiately at Nebraska-Omaha, has done much of his damage at even strength, scoring 142 of his 219 career goals at 5-on-5.

Guentzel has also produced in the postseason, scoring 34 goals with 58 points in 58 career playoffs games. That included 13 goals in the Penguins’ run to the Stanley Cup in 2017 and eight goals in Pittsburgh’s seven-game series with the Rangers in 2022.

The Hurricanes will certainly have to include other significant assets to land Guentzel, though the team has been reluctant to include high draft picks for deadline rentals.

While Guentzel would give Carolina the goal scorer many believe it lacked in recent seasons, he doesn’t come without concerns.

Much of Guentzel’s success has been tied to playing with all-world center Sidney Crosby. Over the last three seasons, Guentzel played almost exclusively with Crosby and had tremendous success, outscoring opponents 147-111 and posting 55.39% possession at 5-on-5, according to When Guentzel was on the ice without Crosby — which wasn’t often; almost 86% of Guentzel’s 5-on-5 time came with the Pittsburgh captain — his goal differential dropped to 21-24 with 42.92% possession.