What’s At Play Behind the Scenes for the Penguins

The Pittsburgh Penguins wrapped up their extensive phase of organizational meetings this week and a lot of the heavy lifting has been done. The organization has conducted a thorough evaluation of what changes, some potentially seismic that the group’s top decision makers believe that are needed to be made.

After two weeks of what’s been described as exhaustive meetings, the direction Penguins GM Jim Rutherford is said to be strongly leaning right now is towards breaking up the core, but the group plans to take a step back over the next 10-14 days, do some scouting at the World Championships, then reconvene and come to a final decision if the direction they are strongly leaning towards right now is the direction they still want to go.

Not surprisingly this lines up with Evgeni Malkin’s timetable and everything on how this off-season goes starts with Malkin.

Following an exit meeting with Malkin days after being swept by the New York Islanders, the Penguins have since communicated with Evgeni Malkin’s representatives around a week ago of how the team plans To read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”!

Rival clubs say the Penguins were informed To read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”! openness of [hide] moving on from Pittsburgh, but that Malkin wants to take a little time to think about things and they would let Pittsburgh know after the World Championships of which teams he would waive his no trade clause to.

What matters here isn’t whether Malkin actually gets traded and if a feasible trade is even out there, that remains to be seen, it’s that the team has great interest in exploring all trade options they can for the future Hall-of-Famer which is a significant development, along with the belief Malkin to this point has been receptive to potentially being traded.

One would think Malkin would be furious that Pittsburgh has a desire to shop him, but a source close to the situation says Malkin has been ‘understanding’ of why Pittsburgh is interested in the possibility.

Multiple teams have called the Penguins over the last two weeks and not one team has come out of conversations that Malkin isn’t available. A message to rival clubs has pretty much been ‘go get on his list’ and come talk to us.

Teams are right now in the intel process of seeing whether they’ll be a consideration from Malkin and as mentioned earlier this week, the Penguins have an understanding there’s a chance of Malkin’s list being in the 4-5 team range.

And growing buzz around the league is the New York Rangers believe they are going to be Malkin’s No. 1 preferred destination and that his wife wants to live in New York City.

Nonetheless, expect some movement on where things are headed after the World Championships.

After the trade deadline, league sources said the Penguins had already started planting seeds of an off-season Phil Kessel trade and there’s been no change in that thinking around the league.

What’s crazy is rival clubs are under the belief the Penguins have already made a firm decision internally they’re trading Phil Kessel (no matter what) whether they have to accept a bad deal in return or not, such as keeping some of the cap hit or including a high pick to just get rid of Kessel.

Teams are operating with the mindset right now that Pittsburgh believes they have to trade Kessel this summer to take a step forward towards being a more complete team on and off the ice, even if it means taking the risk of subtracting skill and 174 points over the last two years out of their lineup.

And good luck finding anyone who thinks the Penguins are going to win a Phil Kessel trade.

There’s a few General Manager’s intrigued about Kessel as was the case last summer, but that’s usually where it stops. Issue No. 1 in finding value for Kessel is coaches just don’t want him and that saw the few teams kicking tires on Kessel last year at the draft go dark before Round 1 even started. The 2-3 clubs Pittsburgh had spoken to couldn’t get their coaches on board, so they didn’t even waste any time pursuing the possibility past the preliminary stages. [/hide]

Another Kessel narrative emerging:

Much is being made by the local media about Kessel’s gambling and petty stuff like Kessel not including himself in end of practice circles of what others are having for dinner that night. Apparently that story is actually out there…….

I’ve had players tell me that stuff is a complete joke, To read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”!