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Less than 24 hours to go before the trade deadline and Chris Kunitz’ name out of nowhere has suddenly popped back up on the rumor mill. [hide]

[“The Penguins will try to move winger Chris Kunitz before the deadline but with another year on his contract at $3.85 million that could be difficult” — Bruce Garrioch Ottawa Sun –]

Looked into this today and unless Jim Rutherford is up to something that none of his staff knows about, this one got shot down pretty easy.

Outside of the Penguins organization and it was also crickets on Kunitz, other than indications that the Penguins had discussed packaging Kunitz and a prominent prospect for a top-6 winger with term from an Eastern Conference team almost two months ago that had traction but fell apart just before the finish line.

Kunitz resurgence of late and continued chemistry with Sidney Crosby has cooled considerations of moving him it seems. Upsetting Sidney Crosby with a Kunitz trade would be a pretty big gamble by Rutherford at this point.

Jim Rutherford is telling anyone who will listen that he is not getting into the forward market, quite a change in direction from a week ago when the team was looking into multiple top-9 forwards. Some around the league aren’t buying it, believing he dips his toes back into the market with prices set to come down Monday.

— Even after the trade for Justin Schultz, don’t be surprised if you hear some chatter tomorrow of the Penguins still looking at options/scenarios on the blueline. Could see a defenseman on the roster traded for another defenseman, similar to the Despres – Lovejoy trade last deadline.

— Penguins officials feel the Flames overplayed their hand in talks about Kris Russell as things got serious late in the week. I’m told the Penguins offered a 2016 second round pick and a fourth round pick for Russell. Calgary sought two second round picks and a top-10 prospect, believed to be Oskar Sundqvist.

Earlier this month Calgary approached Pittsbugh about a bigger deal that would have included Matt Murray.

— The Penguins are only at 47 contracts (50 limit). This weekend they were looking into a deal that would have them acquire an AHL player in return for Sergei Plotnikov, a move to create cap space. Some talk Toronto might be the team a gives Plotnikov a trial.

Former Assistant GM Tom Fitzgerald was initially behind the signing of Plotnikov after scouting him in the World Championships. He’s now in New Jersey. Maybe a fit there with the Devils set to move some of their forwards on Monday.

The Penguins are trying anything to clear the cap space.

— The Penguins have been very forthcoming with Jeff Zatkoff about their plans. Mike Sullivan has made it known to Zatkoff that the team plans to give Murray around six starts out of the remaining 22 games. The Penguins informed Zatkoff they felt it was right to explore a trade for Zatkoff to see if another NHL opportunity was out there for him but they’ve also made it known if trading him is not an option, they plan to keep him involved with the NHL team whether it’s backing Marc Andre Fleury up some games and mentoring Matt Murray (At least that’s the message the Penguins are giving right now) or they want people to believe.

Sullivan called keeping three goaltenders not “ideal” but that’s the deck of cards he’s been dealt.

Here’s where the organization was having some contested discussions regarding Murray. A player must be on an AHL roster at 3 p.m. Monday to be eligible to play in the AHL at any point for the rest of the season.

That’s why no commitment as of this afternoon had been made to starting Murray tomorrow night vs Phoenix. Might be a paper transaction made Monday to keep that option available.

— Sullivan today on Justin Schultz. “He’s a very mobile guy who was a highly touted guy coming out of Wisconsin. Obviously it’s been a little bit of a struggle where he’s been at in Edmonton. “Our hope is that we can inspire him to play to his strengths. We can get him in with our defense group and start working with him to familiarize him with some of the team concepts and strategies and how we’re trying to play.”[/hide]