Penguins prepared to offer coaching job to Mike Johnston; Todd Nelson, Ron Wilson also in discussion, source says


Portland Winterhawks head coach Mike Johnston has emerged as the Penguins top coaching candidate, while AHL coach Todd Nelson is looked at as the Penguins fallback plan along with veteran coach Ron Wilson, Inside Pittsburgh Sports has learned. After a number of phone conversations in the past couple days, Johnston is traveling to Philadelphia today and will meet with GM Jim Rutherford and Penguins officials in Philadelphia on Wednesday to discuss becoming the Penguins next head coach.

NHL: Marc Crawford to interview this week with Penguins?


CRAWFORD ON PENGUINS SHORTLIST? Veteran head coach Marc Crawford had been a name out there for a few weeks now that team sources claimed ownership had interest in prior to the Jim Rutherford hiring, due to his past history of coaching star players, and is Crawford now on Jim Rutherford’s shortlist of candidates to interview this week?

Latest Pens Buzz: Would Cam Ward at a decreased cap hit be a step forward or backwards for Penguins?


HURRICANES WILLING TO PICK UP SOME OF WARD’S SALARY A top priority for Hurricanes GM Ron Francis is to get the salary of Cam Ward off the Hurricanes books. Ward who carries a $6.3 million cap hit, has $13.5 million left on his contract over the next two years. There is lots of talk in league circles that the Hurricanes are willing to take on around $4-$5 million of the remaining $13.5 million to facilitate a trade as the Hurricanes would still get a net savings of over $8 million. Ward is due $6.7 million in 2014-2015 and $6.8 million in 2015-2016. One NHL source says Flames President Brian Burke loves Ward and adding a veteran goaltender is still important for a rebuilding team, but Ward has a no trade clause which could complicate things there. Ward, 30, went 10-12-6 with a 3.06 GAA and .898 save percentage in 2013-2014.Read More »

A look at potential head coach candidates and some with close ties to Rutherford


COACHING SEARCH The Penguins coaching search under GM Jim Rutherford will not fully take off until Mid-June. Rutherford does not plan to conduct in-person interviews until the week of June 16th and there is clear interest from the Penguins in talking to some coaches who are still coaching in the Stanley Cup Final. Some intell I’ve been able to gather on Rutherford is that he has often has been drawn to a coach he has a past relationship with and feels he got burned by the Kirk Mueller hiring when he went with more of a gut feeling on that hire. Among the burning questions, will Rutherford venture towards someone he knows very well and how much influence will ownership have on the hire as Penguins had been discussing potential candidates internally before they even hired a GM. Will this actually be Rutherford’s hiring? Rutherford said Friday “I’m hiring theRead More »

Latest NHL Buzz: Francis wants to build around Jordan Staal but what about Eric?


LATEST NHL BUZZ With a weak free agency crop, the rumor mill is in high gear and will only intensify leading into draft weekend. Here’s some rumblings making noise around the league: — The buzz in league circles is that Hurricanes GM Ron Francis see’s a lot of himself in Jordan Staal and intends to build around Jordan who is just entering his prime. The question is whether he feels the same about Eric Staal who has a bad contract with two years left on his deal and a cap hit of $8.25 million. The belief is that Francis is willing to move Eric whose game has regressed greatly the last two years, but the thing about Francis is that he’s patient and right now many feel he holds on to Eric Staal. Is the Staal brothers all playing together still a possibility? You have to wonder if that weighsRead More »

Morning Pens Buzz: On missed opportunity of 2011 draft; Area new GM will need to be different & more buzz


MORNING PENS BUZZ Watching Brandon Saad just dominate vs the Kings in Game 5 on Wednesday night, it had to make Penguins fans sick to their stomachs. Three years later, the 2011 draft has ended up being a draft that set the Penguins back. In selecting defenseman Joe Morrow, Shero and his scouting staff not only had passed on Saad and potential star goaltender John Gibson who were in his backyard, Boone Jenner sure would have looked great this season next to Malkin or Crosby, wouldn’t he? The worst thing about by-passing Saad is he plays the perfect type of style for a Dan Bylsma system, the so called “Penguins Way” so many in the organization call it. Yet, the Penguins didn’t give any consideration to drafting Saad as their decision came down to Morrow or defenseman Scott Mayfield. Shero was quoted in the Tribune-Review prior to the 2011 draftRead More »

Examining James Neal’s future in Pittsburgh & Three Trade Scenario’s


Inside Pittsburgh Sports has polled scouts and executives on 5 players from the Penguins NHL roster that are top trade candidates this summer. On who has the most trade value? James Neal won the poll receiving 3 of 5 votes with Paul Martin coming in at second, receiving 2 of 5 votes. Talk among executives is that Kris Letang’s trade value is a “complete unknown” right now. Today we examine James Neal’s future in Pittsburgh and his potential trade value. 1. James Neal – Age 26 Cap Hit: $5 million | Signed Through: 2017-2018 Clauses: None for 2014-2015 season *NTC kicks in on July 1, 2015* Is James Neal’s act getting old? He’s a player from a character standpoint that Penguins ownership group feels is part of the problem right now, multiple sources say. Neal has one of those personalities, attitude problems where many inside the organization cast doubts thatRead More »