Latest Penguins Buzz

The Penguins entered the bye break believing that Matt Murray’s injury was very short-term.

However, the million dollar question with the Penguins goaltending situation now is whether this little strong run from Marc Andre Fleury of late, named player of the week for 12/26 – 1/1, and another minor injury from Matt Murray has Penguins’ GM Jim Rutherford eventually going back to his initial plan A (before the season started) of keeping both goaltenders this season and let it settle out in the summer.

It’s been no secret the Penguins in early December began signaling to teams they were open for business on Fleury but have been met with a limited market for now.

Has things really changed in just a matter of days?

“It’s getting awkward,” [hide]Darren Dreger said last Wednesday (12/27) on NBCSN, the night Murray got hurt. “And I think we can all appreciate why. You’re talking about two goaltenders in Matt Murray, who most recently won a Stanley Cup under head coach Mike Sullivan, versus Marc-Andre Fleury, who also has a Stanley Cup champion ring with the Pittsburgh Penguins. So you’ve got two solidified goalies here who are having to continue to share the crease. And that is never a good scenario for either guy, because they know that they’re starters. I wouldn’t say that it’s a tough environment. You’re talking about two pros here. And from Fleury’s perspective, he’s a very good guy in the room. He works hard in practice. He is ultimately a team guy. But he wants the net full-time and he’s not getting a full-time opportunity with the Pittsburgh Penguins. I believe what Jim Rutherford is hoping for is that the bubble teams in terms of the playoffs start to separate a little bit and maybe there’s a hint of desperation.”

NHL sources say there was lots of smoke just prior to the Christmas Break between the Dallas Stars and Pittsburgh Penguins. Pittsburgh has been tracking the Stars of late, including their farm system.

hamhuisPenguins coaches would like to see management add a Ben Lovejoy type defenseman and Rutherford’s interest in defenseman Dan Hamhuis dating back to last season has prompted some whispers that there’s been exploratory talks between the Stars and Penguins about Hamhuis and it’s believed Dallas has also kicked around the idea of acquiring Marc Andre Fleury and Fleury’s name had come up between the two sides.

Hamhuis, 34, has one more season left on his current deal with a $3.75 million cap hit. The veteran defenseman has not fit in like the Stars thought he would and they’ve signaled to teams they are open to moving a veteran defenseman for another need, in addition to clearing room for one of their young blueliners to play.

Last year at the trade deadline when Rutherford tried to acquire Hamhuis, the Penguins were informed Hamhuis wouldn’t waive his no trade clause to Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh also made a call to Hamhuis agent Wade Arnott on July 1 to express interest. He didn’t want to come East.

This season Hamhuis doesn’t have the same protection. Hamhuis can block trades to 15 teams (mostly Eastern Conference teams) and did some checking today and the Capitals and Penguins are among three Eastern Conference teams the Stars could trade Hamhuis to without needing his consent.

Any Fleury-Hamhuis deal (in-season) with other pieces involved would be extremely complicated with Dallas because of their goaltending situation.

Kari Lehtonen ($5.9 million cap hit) and Antti Niemi ($4.5 million) are signed through next season.

Lehtonen, 33, is 9-10-3 with a 2.68 GAA and .904 save percentage.

Niemi is 7-5-4, 3.00 GAA and .908 save percentage.

Dallas is said to be determined to add a legitimate No. 1 goaltender by the summer with Ben Bishop long believed to be their No. 1 target, though, they’re not only focused on Bishop. The belief around the league is the Stars are starting to look at Fleury much more closely.[/hide]