LATEST PENGUINS BUZZ
Penguins GM Jim Rutherford continues to field calls on 40 goal scoring winger James Neal but as of late Thursday evening, the Penguins were not giving much consideration to any trade ideas or offers they’ve received.
When some rumblings surfaced immediately after the season that Neal wanted out due to a lack of organizational support from former Penguins GM Ray Shero following his incident against the Boston Bruins in December, Neal who is back in Pittsburgh this week, has made his intentions known to Penguins owner Mario Lemieux that he has a strong desire to stay in Pittsburgh, an NHL source tells Inside Pittsburgh Sports.
The source says Lemieux and Neal have briefly discussed his future this week and Neal’s camp is confident that James will be a part of the Penguins future.
Rutherford’s stance hasn’t changed with Neal. He is not shopping him but is listening on him. League executives do not believe the Penguins have the appetite to move Neal at the end of the day.
Among the teams showing strong interest in Neal include the Arizona Coyotes and Ottawa Senators.
It wouldn’t be a draft without the Coyotes dangling Keith Yandle in trade talks for an impact top-6 forward. Ottawa has showed strong interest in Neal for weeks. League sources say, Ottawa has made their intentions known of being willing to move assets they receive in an expected Jason Spezza trade.
The Penguins, though, will only consider trading Neal if it makes them a better team now, not the future. Bobby Ryan, possibly goaltender Craig Anderson and a high draft pick would have to be in the discussion.
An interesting team that has checked in on Neal is the Toronto Maple Leafs. Sources say the Leafs are more keen on moving Joffrey Lupul than James van Riemsdyk. The injury prone Lupul is not believed to be of much interest to the Penguins.
5-6 teams have checked in on Neal with the Penguins believing 3-4 of them are serious. The New York Islanders who are dangling the No. 5 overall pick and Josh Bailey, are also believed to have inquired about Neal at somepoint in the last seven to ten days. It wouldn’t be a shock if the Jets, Predators, and Sharks have also, but unable to confirm at this point.
- The Penguins informed Matt Niskanen today they will not make an offer before July 1. Niskanen is as good as gone but both sides have agreed to leave the possibility open of circling back to each other once free agency begins.
- Interesting name getting some play on the trade front is Brandon Sutter. Two league sources say Penguins have received calls on the restricted free agent who has been qualified at $2.7 million. Some talk the Jets are one of the teams to have called on Sutter. Jim Rutherford is very high on Sutter, team sources say.
- Mike Johnston has tabbed former NHL player Travis Green as his first choice to hire as the Penguins ‘s 2nd assistant coach. Green was an assistant coach with the Portland Winterhawks.