Daily 5: Intriguing Pirates Trade Target in Padres outfield; When Pens brass soured on Kapanen & more


TIOPS DAILY FIVE *Rumblings, Musings, Opinions* 1. The Pirates could go into their four game series Thursday night with the St. Louis Cardinals at worst, 5 games out of first place. The series could have huge impact on how aggressive the Pirates are in bolstering the roster. Their philosophy of looking to the future isn’t going to change as top prospects Tyler Glasnow, Austin Meadows and Josh Bell will remain off limits no matter what, but if the Pirates go into the All-Star break 2-3 games out of first, it should set them up to stay within striking distance of the Cardinals by the July 31st deadline and that’s where the temptation will surely be there to add a player or two that could push the Pirates past the Cardinals. 2. The Pirates biggest needs right now is the bench and right field. One option, though, would be to go out and getRead More »

Daily 5: On A.J. Burnett’s brilliant season; Why Mike Johnston trying to change Phil Kessel would be a mistake & more


TIOPS DAILY FIVE *Rumblings, Musings, Opinions* 1. For A.J. Burnett, an All-Star for the first time in his 17th Major League season, some are calling it a fairytale season to what is expected to be his final season. Burnett on Monday night lowered his ERA 1.99, his seventh start this season where he’s pitched at least seven innings and allowed one run or fewer. According to ESPN Stats & Information, only two NL pitchers have more, Max Scherzer (9) and Zack Greinke (8). This is only his third season in Pittsburgh in what has been an almost 20 year MLB career but Burnett has really become a Pittsburgher. He’s putting everything out there for this team and his teammates who just love him. The reaction of Burnett’s teammates when he exited in the eighth soon after a clear strike three was missed by Home Plate ump Paul Emmel, and FirstRead More »

Daily 5: Intrigue with Phil Kessel being a “great support” player that can elevate play of Crosby or Malkin & more


TIOPS DAILY FIVE *Rumblings, Musings, Opinions* 1. Once ownership delivered a mandate to Jim Rutherford immediately after the Penguins first round loss to the Rangers that trading Evgeni Malkin would not even be a discussion internally, the Penguins had two proper ways to attack this off-season. I: Go younger in sort of a re-tooling manner, stay competitive, but look more towards 16-17 and 17-18 by shying away from the win-at-all cost mentality in adding marginal players who don’t move the needle and see if players like Kasperi Kapanen, Derrick Pouliot, can be the ones in 1-2 years who can provide the big jolt. II. The other scenario was going out and adding a true game changer, elite type player who has the ability to impact a game in a way that few others can. That’s the direction Rutherford went in adding Phil Kessel, and previously also looking into Ryan O’Reilly, whoRead More »

Daily 5: Rutherford worked Leafs inexperienced front office; Scouts buzz on 87 or 71 with Kessel & more


TIOPS DAILY FIVE *Rumblings, Musings, Opinions* 1. Penguins General Manager Jim Rutherford showed Wednesday he still has his fastball. Rutherford is an old-school GM known by rivals as a risk taker. Much of his first season as Penguins GM, everything seemed rushed. He overpaid for David Perron giving up a first-round pick that wasn’t lottery protected; he went from believing the Penguins needed skill and four scoring lines, to over-reacting to some tough games with the Rangers, Capitals that the Penguins needed grit to win; he ran the cap so tight the Penguins couldn’t fill a full lineup late in the year, to taking the risk of trading Simon Despres for Ben Lovejoy just because the Penguins needed a right hand defenseman. There was no “patience” in Rutherford’s DNA during the season. This off-season has been a different story. Many in league circles had been predicting for weeks that Rutherford wouldRead More »

Daily 5: Brandon Saad, lack of forward assets, targeting bottom-6 players who can create their own shot & more


TIOPS DAILY FIVE *Rumblings, Musings, Opinions* 1. Brandon Saad went on the trade market Sunday after contract talks stalled and boom was traded this afternoon in a stunner to the Columbus Blue Jackets. In the deal Chicago sent Saad, Alex Broadhurst and defenseman Michael Paliotta to the Blue Jackets, with the Blackhawks receiving forwards Artem Anisimov, Marko Dano, Jeremy Morin, Corey Tropp, and a fourth round draft pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. The Penguins made what they felt was an aggressive pitch for Saad, at least that’s what they want the media to put out there, but the Penguins didn’t have the forwards to matchup in a trade for Saad, per team sources. A Penguins source says the vibe in the organization is more disappointment than stunned. Despite what may be out there in the media, the Blackhawks never gave Penguins the impression that a deal (with Pittsburgh)Read More »

Daily 5: One trade route Penguins should be exploring, cat and mouse game between Leafs/Penguins & more


TIOPS DAILY FIVE *Rumblings, Musings, Opinions* 1. Coming out of the draft, no harm in Jim Rutherford being patient, especially after all of the Penguins winger targets stayed put, but you can’t come out and say it was a great weekend for the Penguins just because they stood pat and didn’t do anything stupid. There was at least a need to move some of the dead weight on the roster and the draft is the best time to do that. In the deepest draft since 2003, especially at the forward position, it wasn’t a draft you wanted to be left out of the first round. The New York Islanders came into the draft with no first round picks, they left the draft with two first round selections, including the No. 16 overall pick, which would have been where the Penguins had selected. There’s always this talk of the Penguins needingRead More »

Daily Five: Penguins Draft Day Chatter & Rumblings Edition


TIOPS DAILY FIVE: NHL DRAFT EDITION *Rumblings, Musings, Opinions* 1. Jim Rutherford looking to make a splash, multiple NHL sources confirmed today that the Penguins are trying to maneuver two separate trades for top-6 wingers. The Penguins had identified two wingers with a shorter term and two wingers with four+ years left on their respective deals. The grand plan would be to strike deals for one of each but lots of roster shuffling would have to take place and the Penguins intend to be patient if it doesn’t happen tonight. It’s going to be a very tough scenario to pull off and some of the chatter out there indicates what they’re trying to do isn’t realistic. The usual suspects out there include Phil Kessel, Patrick Sharp, T.J. Oshie and Jeff Skinner. They’ve also looking into lesser names like Brad Boyes. 2. The Blackhawks losing out on Mike Reilly has manyRead More »

Daily 5: Chatter around league has Rutherford looking to swing for the fences in acquiring Kessel & more


TIOPS DAILY FIVE *Rumblings, Musings, Opinions* 1. Chris Kunitz future with the Penguins this summer is hinging on whether the Penguins make a specific move they are exploring for a top-6 winger, Inside Pittsburgh Sports has learned. A source close to the situation in simplest terms says the Penguins are not planning to move Kunitz just for the sake of moving him but have explored scenarios to create a roster spot or cap room, were the Penguins to swing a deal for one scenario they’re exploring right now. That leads to this:

Daily Five: Rutherford’s Russian Quota Met? Bennett trade talk; 3-on-3 OT, Corey Hart & more


TIOPS DAILY FIVE *Rumblings, Musings, Opinions* 1. All this talk for months of the Penguins determined to sign a few Russians is coming to fruition as the Penguins have a verbal agreement in place with 25 year old winger Sergei Plotnikov. For the Penguins it’s a low risk move as there’s no harm in bringing Plotnikov on board. Plotnikov, 25, is regarded as a hard working very physical forward who has some offensive tools and good hockey sense, but is not a fast skater and his skating is considered a major weakness. Plotnikov had 15 goals and 36 points in 56 games for Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the KHL this season. He had a goal and assist in 10 games for Russia in the World Championships. Plotnikov has 68 goals and 146 points in 300 career KHL games. Getting some feedback on Plotnikov today from scouts who have seen Plotnikov atRead More »

Daily 5: Brandon Sutter trade talk, Rob Scuderi, Alex Semin & more


TIOPS DAILY FIVE *Rumblings, Musings, Opinions* 1. What is Brandon Sutter’s worth on the trade market? The Penguins probably wished rival General Managers had Darren Dreger’s view of Sutter. [“I mean Brandon Sutter is a young man, relatively young, and has tremendous upside no question about that,” Dreger said on TSN Radio, via mynhltraderumors.com] Maybe one does but as the Penguins have been gauging Sutter’s value in recent weeks, he’s not going to nab them a 2015 first round pick, that much has been clear. The Penguins main goal, though, has been putting him out there in the hopes of landing a top-6 winger in return. That type of deal might not be there for the Penguins with so many teams trying to shed salary, tight against the cap, Sutter a year away from unrestricted free agency and a trade market flooded with impact forwards available. Some teams that reallyRead More »