Penguins GM Jim Rutherford was in New York today for the GM Meetings and to know surprise, teams are coming to him about trade ideas.
“Some people came after me today and there’s ideas out there,” said Rutherford, per Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston. “I haven’t been throwing any ideas out, but I’ll listen. Obviously there’s going to be some new players there because just the position we’re in with the cap.”
One name teams are believed to be coming at the Penguins about is winger James Neal as interest is said to be sky high in Neal, according to league sources. The Toronto Maple Leafs are among the teams to have checked in on Neal.
There’s an interest in getting some different type of player or players in the top-6 around Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Chris Kunitz, team sources say.
Rutherford does not have a mandate from ownership to move Kris Letang whose new 8 year deal that is considered a “generous” contract by NHL types, kicks in next season.
Is Rutherford intrigued enough by Matt Niskanen to go big for him on a new deal?
Rutherford feels Niskanen will be difficult to sign but the chances of signing him could enhance if the Penguins clear some space before July 1, something Rutherford is expected to look hard at.
“He had a good year and I’m trying to figure that out,” said Rutherford at the GM Meetings. “That’s not going to be easy, but certainly with the year he had we’d like to take a look at it.”
Team officials anticipate close to the draft of the Penguins getting calls on trading the rights to some of their key UFA’s.
Rutherford this afternoon appeared on the Mark Madden Show (105.9 The X) and had some additional comments on Niskanen and others:
- “It’s a matter of whether anything that I can do prior to July to lighten that space up a bit,” Rutherford said of signing some of the Penguins top free agents. “The obvious guy that really came on this year was Matt Niskanen. We just got to try to get ourselves in a position to sign one or two of those guys, or if we can be in position to replace them, which would be hard to have,” Rutherford said.
- Rutherford said he is not a fan of having an enforcer in the lineup. “I’m not big on bringing in an enforcer that can only play 2-3 minutes. I don’t want to go get enforcer”
- Upgrading the bottom-6, notably the bottom-3 is a priority for the Penguins. “What’s happening now is the bottom end guys, especially bottom-3 are being paid like third line players. Trick here for us, especially with cap space we have is to get the right players at these positions in good value,” Rutherford said.
- Rutherford continues to be very complimentary of Marc Andre Fleury. “I liked the season he just had. Consistency of his season was really good this year. Good regular season, couple little mishaps in Columbus series. Nice thing he bounced back and you could tell the team wanted to bounce back for him. I’m very comfortable with Fleury.”