It took about a month to get done by Jim Rutherford nabbed his No. 1 target at the end of the day.
“Very excited about what happened,” Rutherford said of the Penguins acquisition of Phil Kessel. “Worked on this deal with Toronto for about a month. Got a little bit of legs on draft night and heated up last night.”
Rutherford noted that the Penguins “poked” around on other available wingers but Kessel was their main target from the get go.
“Kessel was our main [No. 1] target,” Rutherford said. “Ideal player we were looking for.”
Rutherford set out to add an impact scoring winger and he accomplished that goal.
“When you can get a pure goal scorer…….that is going to help you win games,” Rutherford said. “We got the best player in the trade right now.”
On the notion that Kessel is lazy and a bad teammate, “I don’t have any concerns,” Rutherford said. “Everybody gets a fresh start. I feel very comfortable in getting Phil. I’ve done a lot of homework.”
It should be noted on Kessel for those who call him lazy, the guy never misses a game.
Rutherford had been on the hunt to add two top-6 wingers and with the Kessel addition, the Penguins are no longer looking into signing or acquiring another top-6 winger.
The team will go into next season with Kessel, Patric Hornqvist and David Perron as their three locks in the top-6 with a spot up for grabs.
One player who will get a strong look for the open spot is Russian winger Sergei Plotnikov. “We feel Plotnikov can go in the top-6,” Rutherford said. “Real good player. Whether he can play in our top-6 or not, we’ll find out [in camp].”
Where does that leave Chris Kunitz who was actively shopped in the last week?
“Chris Kunitz case, depends on where he fits,” Rutherford said of his fit in the lineup. ” Obviously one of those guys [Chris Kunitz, Pascal Dupuis] won’t be in the top-6,” Rutherford said when talking about Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis.
Making a slew off organizational depth signings (2-way contracts), the Penguins are still looking to sign another skilled center to play in the bottom-6 and remain in the mix for Mike Santorelli, according to an NHL source, but Santorelli is in demand and weighing three multi-year offers.
Eric Fehr another name the Penguins have kicked the tires on, is also still out there.
Organizational Depth Signings (2-way Contracts)
Forward Sergei Plotikonov, one year entry level contract.
Forward Conor Sheary, two year deal,entry level contract.
Defenseman David Warsofsky, one year contract worth $600,000. Warsofsky, 25, has played 230 games for the Providence Bruins of the AHL.
Forward Kael Mouillierat, one year contract worth $575,000. Mouillierat scored 24 goals and 50 points in 69 games for Bridgeport in 2014-2015.
Forward Kevin Porter, one year contract worth $575,000. Porter, 29, has spent parts of six seasons in the NHL with the Coyotes, Avalanche, and Sabres, recording 55 points in 206 games.
Defenseman Steve Oleksky, one year contract worth $575,000.