tiops-smallSticking with Murray as Fleury trade rumblings heating up

Penguin coaches had always wanted by mid-to-late January to have things settled where there was no question who the Penguins No. 1 goaltender was going to be from here on out for the rest of the season.

They’ve stayed true to that mindset as the team is now rolling with Matt Murray who will make his sixth straight start, meaning Marc Andre Fleury will go at least 17 days between starts if he were to start Tuesday night.

“We’ve liked what Matt has done here,” Sullivan told reporters today in Boston. “We feel like he’s on a little bit of a roll. We just thought it made sense to stay with him.”

— The Penguins have no set asking price as they are aggressively trying to trade Marc Andre Fleury and want to do so well before March 1. Clubs, though, that have spoken with the Penguins have a pretty good idea of what they’re willing to consider.

Among them:

1. The Penguins have been open to moving Fleury for a veteran player with term to fill a need, either a defenseman or a forward with speed that makes sense. The Fleury – Hamhuis talk was out there last month but has cooled of late.

2. The team is said to at least being open minded to keeping 20-25% of the cap hit in return for a high draft pick or high-end prospect, one Eastern Conference executive said earlier this month.

Another scenario league executives believe the Penguins would jump at that might be a head scratcher to some: [hide]

3. Trading Fleury for nothing more than a late round pick, one executive mentioned a 5th rounder, if a team is willing to take on all of Fleury’s remaining salary. They’ve signaled to at least one team of this, a source says.

Sounds crazy for a goaltender of Fleury’s caliber?

Not necessarily in this goaltending market.

This is one reason the urgency is picking up from Rutherford, other execs say. “Jim wants to get a jump on things and  make the first move,” an executive said of the current goaltending market that is pretty much a logjam.

Opening up this cap space would make the Penguins scary dangerous going into March 1 and open up key cap space for next summer with Murray’s cap hit increasing and others like Justin Schultz in line for a significant raise.

Question remains, though, if a team emerges willing to take on the full portion of Fleury’s salary even at such a low cost.

Will be an interesting next couple of weeks with the Penguins said to have such an open mind on returns for Fleury.

Weighing Backup Options

The Penguins take pride in Wilkes Barre/Scranton being an annual contender in the AHL. If the Penguins are successful in trading Fleury, they prefer to keep the goaltending situation the same in Wilkes Barre and let Tristan Jarry continue to develop.

The team has been scouting multiple options in the event Fleury is traded and they don’t get a goaltender back in the Fleury trade.

There’s been discussions about a reunion with Jeff Zatkoff who has been awful in Los Angeles.

Lineup Buzz

Patric Hornqvist opting to make the trip to Boston, will play tonight after being listed as day-to-day yesterday.

The forward lineup decision tonight now centers on whether the Penguins dress Jake Guentzel at center or not.

If they do, Tom Kuhnhackl draws in. If not, Carter Rowney figures to dress.

Guentzel is a natural centerman and it would be his first NHL game down the middle.

“He’s a good center and he can play both [center & wing],” Sullivan said of Guentzel. “I think one of Jake’s strengths is his hockey IQ. He sees the ice well and he’s a solid 2-way player.” [/hide]