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Insider Only NHL: Ruutu, Whitney at top of Pens wishlist for Feb targets?

PENS RUMOR MILL

Some buzz among scouts around the league:

The Pittsburgh Penguins have strong interest in Carolina Hurricanes forward Tuomo Ruutu and Phoenix Coyotes winger Ray Whitney, sources say. There is a strong belief around the league that the Penguins will look into both players next month.
The Penguins a source says have been keeping a very close eye on the 39 year old Whitney, who is showing no signs of slowing down, with 14 goals and 36 points and a +12 rating for the Coyotes.
The Penguins aggressively pursued Whitney at the 2010 trade deadline and made an attempt to sign Whitney in the summer of 2010, agent JP Barry told me at the time.
I asked a scout if he saw any risk of the Penguins bringing in another aging forward like they did with Steve Sullivan who is under performing. “Absoutely not, ” the scout said. “{The} player {Whitney} teams’ pursued in 2010 is the same player now, ” the scout said who called Whitney a top-2 line forward.
Whitney, 39, is in the final year of his contract and carries a $3 million cap hit. He has a no movement clause. Right now the Penguins cap space towards the deadline projects to somewhere in the $3 million range but that can easily change between now and then.
Whitney last season collected 57 points and has not scored under 55 points in a season since the 2003-2004 season.
The Coyotes are currently 11th in the Western Conference with 46 points. Phoenix though is expected to wait closer to the deadline before deciding to move Whitney.
Scouts project the Penguins still being an attractive destination to targets with no trade and no movement clauses, even if they are still hovering around the 8th or 9th playoff spot next month.
Meanwhile, the 28 year old Ruutu is drawing strong interest around the league, including from the likes of Boston, Pittsburgh and Detroit.
Ruutu carries a $3.8 million cap hit and is an unrestricted free agent at seasons end.
The 28 year old who scouts feel would be an excellent fit in Dan Bylsma’s system, has 14 goals and 23 points on the season. There’s mixed opinions on whether he’s available now but if he is, teams would have to overpay.
Ruutu is versatile with the ability to play center or wing and could easily fit on a second or third line for Pittsburgh.

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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